Famous Love Poems

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Famous love poems by famous poets. These are the all-time best and most-Famous Love Poems from throughout history. Read and share some of these top famous love poems with your friends.

To the elect of love,—or side-by-side
in raptest ecstasy, or sundered wide
by seas that bear no message to or fro
between the loved and lost of long ago.

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Famous Love Poems by Famous Poets

123
Whitman , Walt

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Walt Whitman

 1
I CELEBRATE myself; 
And what I assume you shall assume; 
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my Soul; I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass.
Houses and rooms are full of perfumes—the shelves are crowded with perfumes; I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it; The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.
The atmosphere is not a perfume—it has no taste of the distillation—it is odorless; It is for my mouth forever—I am in love with it; I will go to the bank by the wood, and become undisguised and naked; I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
2 The smoke of my own breath; Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine; My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs; The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore, and dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn; The sound of the belch’d words of my voice, words loos’d to the eddies of the wind; A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms; The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag; The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides; The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.
Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the earth much? Have you practis’d so long to learn to read? Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems? Stop this day and night with me, and you shall possess the origin of all poems; You shall possess the good of the earth and sun—(there are millions of suns left;) You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books; You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me: You shall listen to all sides, and filter them from yourself.
3 I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end; But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is now, Nor any more youth or age than there is now; And will never be any more perfection than there is now, Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
Urge, and urge, and urge; Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance—always substance and increase, always sex; Always a knit of identity—always distinction—always a breed of life.
To elaborate is no avail—learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.
Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well entretied, braced in the beams, Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical, I and this mystery, here we stand.
Clear and sweet is my Soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my Soul.
Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen, Till that becomes unseen, and receives proof in its turn.
Showing the best, and dividing it from the worst, age vexes age; Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.
Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean; Not an inch, nor a particle of an inch, is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest.
I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing: As the hugging and loving Bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the night, and withdraws at the peep of the day, with stealthy tread, Leaving me baskets cover’d with white towels, swelling the house with their plenty, Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization, and scream at my eyes, That they turn from gazing after and down the road, And forthwith cipher and show me a cent, Exactly the contents of one, and exactly the contents of two, and which is ahead? 4 Trippers and askers surround me; People I meet—the effect upon me of my early life, or the ward and city I live in, or the nation, The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new, My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues, The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love, The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or ill-doing, or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations; Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events; These come to me days and nights, and go from me again, But they are not the Me myself.
Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am; Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary; Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest, Looking with side-curved head, curious what will come next; Both in and out of the game, and watching and wondering at it.
Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders; I have no mockings or arguments—I witness and wait.
5 I believe in you, my Soul—the other I am must not abase itself to you; And you must not be abased to the other.
Loafe with me on the grass—loose the stop from your throat; Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or lecture, not even the best; Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.
I mind how once we lay, such a transparent summer morning; How you settled your head athwart my hips, and gently turn’d over upon me, And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart, And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my feet.
Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth; And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own, And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own; And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers; And that a kelson of the creation is love; And limitless are leaves, stiff or drooping in the fields; And brown ants in the little wells beneath them; And mossy scabs of the worm fence, and heap’d stones, elder, mullen and poke-weed.
6 A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is, any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly dropt, Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say, Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic; And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white; Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you, curling grass; It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men; It may be if I had known them I would have loved them; It may be you are from old people, and from women, and from offspring taken soon out of their mothers’ laps; And here you are the mothers’ laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers; Darker than the colorless beards of old men; Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues! And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women, And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men? And what do you think has become of the women and children? They are alive and well somewhere; The smallest sprout shows there is really no death; And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.
All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses; And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
7 Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her, it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new-wash’d babe, and am not contain’d between my hat and boots; And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every one good; The earth good, and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.
I am not an earth, nor an adjunct of an earth; I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself; (They do not know how immortal, but I know.
) Every kind for itself and its own—for me mine, male and female; For me those that have been boys, and that love women; For me the man that is proud, and feels how it stings to be slighted; For me the sweet-heart and the old maid—for me mothers, and the mothers of mothers; For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears; For me children, and the begetters of children.
Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale, nor discarded; I see through the broadcloth and gingham, whether or no; And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away.
8 The little one sleeps in its cradle; I lift the gauze, and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand.
The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill; I peeringly view them from the top.
The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bed-room; I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair—I note where the pistol has fallen.
The blab of the pave, the tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of the promenaders; The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the granite floor; The snow-sleighs, the clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snowballs; The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous’d mobs; The flap of the curtain’d litter, a sick man inside, borne to the hospital; The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall; The excited crowd, the policeman with his star, quickly working his passage to the centre of the crowd; The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes; What groans of over-fed or half-starv’d who fall sun-struck, or in fits; What exclamations of women taken suddenly, who hurry home and give birth to babes; What living and buried speech is always vibrating here—what howls restrain’d by decorum; Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips; I mind them or the show or resonance of them—I come, and I depart.
9 The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready; The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon; The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged; The armfuls are pack’d to the sagging mow.
I am there—I help—I came stretch’d atop of the load; I felt its soft jolts—one leg reclined on the other; I jump from the cross-beams, and seize the clover and timothy, And roll head over heels, and tangle my hair full of wisps.
10 Alone, far in the wilds and mountains, I hunt, Wandering, amazed at my own lightness and glee; In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night, Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill’d game; Falling asleep on the gather’d leaves, with my dog and gun by my side.
The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails—she cuts the sparkle and scud; My eyes settle the land—I bend at her prow, or shout joyously from the deck.
The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me; I tuck’d my trowser-ends in my boots, and went and had a good time: (You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle.
) I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west—the bride was a red girl; Her father and his friends sat near, cross-legged and dumbly smoking—they had moccasins to their feet, and large thick blankets hanging from their shoulders; On a bank lounged the trapper—he was drest mostly in skins—his luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck—he held his bride by the hand; She had long eyelashes—her head was bare—her coarse straight locks descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach’d to her feet.
The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside; I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile; Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and weak, And went where he sat on a log, and led him in and assured him, And brought water, and fill’d a tub for his sweated body and bruis’d feet, And gave him a room that enter’d from my own, and gave him some coarse clean clothes, And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness, And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles; He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass’d north; (I had him sit next me at table—my fire-lock lean’d in the corner.
) 11 Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore; Twenty-eight young men, and all so friendly: Twenty-eight years of womanly life, and all so lonesome.
She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank; She hides, handsome and richly drest, aft the blinds of the window.
Which of the young men does she like the best? Ah, the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.
Where are you off to, lady? for I see you; You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.
Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather; The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.
The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from their long hair: Little streams pass’d all over their bodies.
An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies; It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.
The young men float on their backs—their white bellies bulge to the sun—they do not ask who seizes fast to them; They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch; They do not think whom they souse with spray.
12 The butcher-boy puts off his killing clothes, or sharpens his knife at the stall in the market; I loiter, enjoying his repartee, and his shuffle and break-down.
Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil; Each has his main-sledge—they are all out—(there is a great heat in the fire.
) From the cinder-strew’d threshold I follow their movements; The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms; Over-hand the hammers swing—over-hand so slow—over-hand so sure: They do not hasten—each man hits in his place.
13 The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses—the block swags underneath on its tied-over chain; The negro that drives the dray of the stone-yard—steady and tall he stands, pois’d on one leg on the string-piece; His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast, and loosens over his hip-band; His glance is calm and commanding—he tosses the slouch of his hat away from his forehead; The sun falls on his crispy hair and moustache—falls on the black of his polish’d and perfect limbs.
I behold the picturesque giant, and love him—and I do not stop there; I go with the team also.
In me the caresser of life wherever moving—backward as well as forward slueing; To niches aside and junior bending.
Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain, or halt in the leafy shade! what is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.
My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck, on my distant and day-long ramble; They rise together—they slowly circle around.
I believe in those wing’d purposes, And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me, And consider green and violet, and the tufted crown, intentional; And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else; And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me; And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.
14 The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night; Ya-honk! he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation; (The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen close; I find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky.
) The sharp-hoof’d moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog, The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats, The brood of the turkey-hen, and she with her half-spread wings; I see in them and myself the same old law.
The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections; They scorn the best I can do to relate them.
I am enamour’d of growing out-doors, Of men that live among cattle, or taste of the ocean or woods, Of the builders and steerers of ships, and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses; I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.
What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me; Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns; Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me; Not asking the sky to come down to my good will; Scattering it freely forever.
15 The pure contralto sings in the organ loft; The carpenter dresses his plank—the tongue of his foreplane whistles its wild ascending lisp; The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiving dinner; The pilot seizes the king-pin—he heaves down with a strong arm; The mate stands braced in the whale-boat—lance and harpoon are ready; The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches; The deacons are ordain’d with cross’d hands at the altar; The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel; The farmer stops by the bars, as he walks on a First-day loafe, and looks at the oats and rye; The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a confirm’d case, (He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother’s bed-room;) The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case, He turns his quid of tobacco, while his eyes blurr with the manuscript; The malform’d limbs are tied to the surgeon’s table, What is removed drops horribly in a pail; The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand—the drunkard nods by the bar-room stove; The machinist rolls up his sleeves—the policeman travels his beat—the gate-keeper marks who pass; The young fellow drives the express-wagon—(I love him, though I do not know him;) The half-breed straps on his light boots to complete in the race; The western turkey-shooting draws old and young—some lean on their rifles, some sit on logs, Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels his piece; The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee; As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them from his saddle; The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their partners, the dancers bow to each other; The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof’d garret, and harks to the musical rain; The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron; The squaw, wrapt in her yellow-hemm’d cloth, is offering moccasins and bead-bags for sale; The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut eyes bent sideways; As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat, the plank is thrown for the shore-going passengers; The young sister holds out the skein, while the elder sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now and then for the knots; The one-year wife is recovering and happy, having a week ago borne her first child; The clean-hair’d Yankee girl works with her sewing-machine, or in the factory or mill; The nine months’ gone is in the parturition chamber, her faintness and pains are advancing; The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer—the reporter’s lead flies swiftly over the note-book—the sign-painter is lettering with red and gold; The canal boy trots on the tow-path—the book-keeper counts at his desk—the shoemaker waxes his thread; The conductor beats time for the band, and all the performers follow him; The child is baptized—the convert is making his first professions; The regatta is spread on the bay—the race is begun—how the white sails sparkle! The drover, watching his drove, sings out to them that would stray; The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser higgling about the odd cent;) The camera and plate are prepared, the lady must sit for her daguerreotype; The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock moves slowly; The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open’d lips; The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck; The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to each other; (Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths, nor jeer you;) The President, holding a cabinet council, is surrounded by the Great Secretaries; On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined arms; The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the hold; The Missourian crosses the plains, toting his wares and his cattle; As the fare-collector goes through the train, he gives notice by the jingling of loose change; The floor-men are laying the floor—the tinners are tinning the roof—the masons are calling for mortar; In single file, each shouldering his hod, pass onward the laborers; Seasons pursuing each other, the indescribable crowd is gather’d—it is the Fourth of Seventh-month—(What salutes of cannon and small arms!) Seasons pursuing each other, the plougher ploughs, the mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the ground; Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in the frozen surface; The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep with his axe; Flatboatmen make fast, towards dusk, near the cottonwood or pekan-trees; Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river, or through those drain’d by the Tennessee, or through those of the Arkansaw; Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahoochee or Altamahaw; Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grandsons around them; In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after their day’s sport; The city sleeps, and the country sleeps; The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time; The old husband sleeps by his wife, and the young husband sleeps by his wife; And these one and all tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them; And such as it is to be of these, more or less, I am.
16 I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise; Regardless of others, ever regardful of others, Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man, Stuff’d with the stuff that is coarse, and stuff’d with the stuff that is fine; One of the Great Nation, the nation of many nations, the smallest the same, and the largest the same; A southerner soon as a northerner—a planter nonchalant and hospitable, down by the Oconee I live; A Yankee, bound by my own way, ready for trade, my joints the limberest joints on earth, and the sternest joints on earth; A Kentuckian, walking the vale of the Elkhorn, in my deer-skin leggings—a Louisianian or Georgian; A boatman over lakes or bays, or along coasts—a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye; At home on Kanadian snow-shoes, or up in the bush, or with fishermen off Newfoundland; At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking; At home on the hills of Vermont, or in the woods of Maine, or the Texan ranch; Comrade of Californians—comrade of free north-westerners, (loving their big proportions;) Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen—comrade of all who shake hands and welcome to drink and meat; A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest; A novice beginning, yet experient of myriads of seasons; Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion; A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker; A prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.
I resist anything better than my own diversity; I breathe the air, but leave plenty after me, And am not stuck up, and am in my place.
(The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place; The suns I see, and the suns I cannot see, are in their place; The palpable is in its place, and the impalpable is in its place.
) 17 These are the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands—they are not original with me; If they are not yours as much as mine, they are nothing, or next to nothing; If they are not the riddle, and the untying of the riddle, they are nothing; If they are not just as close as they are distant, they are nothing.
This is the grass that grows wherever the land is, and the water is; This is the common air that bathes the globe.
18 With music strong I come—with my cornets and my drums, I play not marches for accepted victors only—I play great marches for conquer’d and slain persons.
Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall—battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.
I beat and pound for the dead; I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for them.
Vivas to those who have fail’d! And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea! And to those themselves who sank in the sea! And to all generals that lost engagements! and all overcome heroes! And the numberless unknown heroes, equal to the greatest heroes known.
19 This is the meal equally set—this is the meat for natural hunger; It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous—I make appointments with all; I will not have a single person slighted or left away; The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited; The heavy-lipp’d slave is invited—the venerealee is invited: There shall be no difference between them and the rest.
This is the press of a bashful hand—this is the float and odor of hair; This is the touch of my lips to yours—this is the murmur of yearning; This is the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face; This is the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again.
Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? Well, I have—for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of a rock has.
Do you take it I would astonish? Does the daylight astonish? Does the early redstart, twittering through the woods? Do I astonish more than they? This hour I tell things in confidence; I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.
20 Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude; How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat? What is a man, anyhow? What am I? What are you? All I mark as my own, you shall offset it with your own; Else it were time lost listening to me.
I do not snivel that snivel the world over, That months are vacuums, and the ground but wallow and filth; That life is a suck and a sell, and nothing remains at the end but threadbare crape, and tears.
Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids—conformity goes to the fourth-remov’d; I wear my hat as I please, indoors or out.
Why should I pray? Why should I venerate and be ceremonious? Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsell’d with doctors, and calculated close, I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.
In all people I see myself—none more, and not one a barleycorn less; And the good or bad I say of myself, I say of them.
And I know I am solid and sound; To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow; All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.
I know I am deathless; I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by the carpenter’s compass; I know I shall not pass like a child’s carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night.
I know I am august; I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood; I see that the elementary laws never apologize; (I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.
) I exist as I am—that is enough; If no other in the world be aware, I sit content; And if each and all be aware, I sit content.
One world is aware, and by far the largest to me, and that is myself; And whether I come to my own to-day, or in ten thousand or ten million years, I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.
My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite; I laugh at what you call dissolution; And I know the amplitude of time.
21 I am the poet of the Body; And I am the poet of the Soul.
The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of hell are with me; The first I graft and increase upon myself—the latter I translate into a new tongue.
I am the poet of the woman the same as the man; And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man; And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.
I chant the chant of dilation or pride; We have had ducking and deprecating about enough; I show that size is only development.
Have you outstript the rest? Are you the President? It is a trifle—they will more than arrive there, every one, and still pass on.
I am he that walks with the tender and growing night; I call to the earth and sea, half-held by the night.
Press close, bare-bosom’d night! Press close, magnetic, nourishing night! Night of south winds! night of the large few stars! Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night.
Smile, O voluptuous, cool-breath’d earth! Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees; Earth of departed sunset! earth of the mountains, misty-topt! Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon, just tinged with blue! Earth of shine and dark, mottling the tide of the river! Earth of the limpid gray of clouds, brighter and clearer for my sake! Far-swooping elbow’d earth! rich, apple-blossom’d earth! Smile, for your lover comes! Prodigal, you have given me love! Therefore I to you give love! O unspeakable, passionate love! 22 You sea! I resign myself to you also—I guess what you mean; I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers; I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me; We must have a turn together—I undress—hurry me out of sight of the land; Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse; Dash me with amorous wet—I can repay you.
Sea of stretch’d ground-swells! Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths! Sea of the brine of life! sea of unshovell’d yet always-ready graves! Howler and scooper of storms! capricious and dainty sea! I am integral with you—I too am of one phase, and of all phases.
Partaker of influx and efflux I—extoller of hate and conciliation; Extoller of amies, and those that sleep in each others’ arms.
I am he attesting sympathy; (Shall I make my list of things in the house, and skip the house that supports them?) I am not the poet of goodness only—I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also.
Washes and razors for foofoos—for me freckles and a bristling beard.
What blurt is this about virtue and about vice? Evil propels me, and reform of evil propels me—I stand indifferent; My gait is no fault-finder’s or rejecter’s gait; I moisten the roots of all that has grown.
Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging pregnancy? Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work’d over and rectified? I find one side a balance, and the antipodal side a balance; Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine; Thoughts and deeds of the present, our rouse and early start.
This minute that comes to me over the past decillions, There is no better than it and now.
What behaved well in the past, or behaves well to-day, is not such a wonder; The wonder is, always and always, how there can be a mean man or an infidel.
23 Endless unfolding of words of ages! And mine a word of the modern—the word En-Masse.
A word of the faith that never balks; Here or henceforward, it is all the same to me—I accept Time, absolutely.
It alone is without flaw—it rounds and completes all; That mystic, baffling wonder I love, alone completes all.
I accept reality, and dare not question it; Materialism first and last imbuing.
Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demonstration! Fetch stonecrop, mixt with cedar and branches of lilac; This is the lexicographer—this the chemist—this made a grammar of the old cartouches; These mariners put the ship through dangerous unknown seas; This is the geologist—this works with the scalpel—and this is a mathematician.
Gentlemen! to you the first honors always: Your facts are useful and real—and yet they are not my dwelling; (I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.
) Less the reminders of properties told, my words; And more the reminders, they, of life untold, and of freedom and extrication, And make short account of neuters and geldings, and favor men and women fully equipt, And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives, and them that plot and conspire.
24 Walt Whitman am I, a Kosmos, of mighty Manhattan the son, Turbulent, fleshy and sensual, eating, drinking and breeding; No sentimentalist—no stander above men and women, or apart from them; No more modest than immodest.
Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! Whoever degrades another degrades me; And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.
Through me the afflatus surging and surging—through me the current and index.
I speak the pass-word primeval—I give the sign of democracy; By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms.
Through me many long dumb voices; Voices of the interminable generations of slaves; Voices of prostitutes, and of deform’d persons; Voices of the diseas’d and despairing, and of thieves and dwarfs; Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion, And of the threads that connect the stars—and of wombs, and of the father-stuff, And of the rights of them the others are down upon; Of the trivial, flat, foolish, despised, Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.
Through me forbidden voices; Voice of sexes and lusts—voices veil’d, and I remove the veil; Voices indecent, by me clarified and transfigur’d.
I do not press my fingers across my mouth; I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart; Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
I believe in the flesh and the appetites; Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch’d from; The scent of these arm-pits, aroma finer than prayer; This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.
If I worship one thing more than another, it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it.
Translucent mould of me, it shall be you! Shaded ledges and rests, it shall be you! Firm masculine colter, it shall be you.
Whatever goes to the tilth of me, it shall be you! You my rich blood! Your milky stream, pale strippings of my life.
Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall be you! My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions.
Root of wash’d sweet flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you! Mix’d tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you! Trickling sap of maple! fibre of manly wheat! it shall be you! Sun so generous, it shall be you! Vapors lighting and shading my face, it shall be you! You sweaty brooks and dews, it shall be you! Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me, it shall be you! Broad, muscular fields! branches of live oak! loving lounger in my winding paths! it shall be you! Hands I have taken—face I have kiss’d—mortal I have ever touch’d! it shall be you.
I dote on myself—there is that lot of me, and all so luscious; Each moment, and whatever happens, thrills me with joy.
O I am wonderful! I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my faintest wish; Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the friendship I take again.
That I walk up my stoop! I pause to consider if it really be; A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
To behold the day-break! The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows; The air tastes good to my palate.
Hefts of the moving world, at innocent gambols, silently rising, freshly exuding, Scooting obliquely high and low.
Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs; Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.
The earth by the sky staid with—the daily close of their junction; The heav’d challenge from the east that moment over my head; The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be master! 25 Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sun-rise would kill me, If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.
We also ascend, dazzling and tremendous as the sun; We found our own, O my Soul, in the calm and cool of the daybreak.
My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach; With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds, and volumes of worlds.
Speech is the twin of my vision—it is unequal to measure itself; It provokes me forever; It says sarcastically, Walt, you contain enough—why don’t you let it out, then? Come now, I will not be tantalized—you conceive too much of articulation.
Do you not know, O speech, how the buds beneath you are folded? Waiting in gloom, protected by frost; The dirt receding before my prophetical screams; I underlying causes, to balance them at last; My knowledge my live parts—it keeping tally with the meaning of things, HAPPINESS—which, whoever hears me, let him or her set out in search of this day.
My final merit I refuse you—I refuse putting from me what I really am; Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me; I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking toward you.
Writing and talk do not prove me; I carry the plenum of proof, and everything else, in my face; With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic.
26 I think I will do nothing now but listen, To accrue what I hear into myself—to let sounds contribute toward me.
I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals; I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice; I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following; Sounds of the city, and sounds out of the city—sounds of the day and night; Talkative young ones to those that like them—the loud laugh of work-people at their meals; The angry base of disjointed friendship—the faint tones of the sick; The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence; The heave’e’yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves—the refrain of the anchor-lifters; The ring of alarm-bells—the cry of fire—the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts, with premonitory tinkles, and color’d lights; The steam-whistle—the solid roll of the train of approaching cars; The slow-march play’d at the head of the association, marching two and two, (They go to guard some corpse—the flag-tops are draped with black muslin.
) I hear the violoncello (’tis the young man’s heart’s complaint;) I hear the key’d cornet—it glides quickly in through my ears; It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.
I hear the chorus—it is a grand opera; Ah, this indeed is music! This suits me.
A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me; The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full.
I hear the train’d soprano—(what work, with hers, is this?) The orchestra whirls me wider than Uranus flies; It wrenches such ardors from me, I did not know I possess’d them; It sails me—I dab with bare feet—they are lick’d by the indolent waves; I am exposed, cut by bitter and angry hail—I lose my breath, Steep’d amid honey’d morphine, my windpipe throttled in fakes of death; At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles, And that we call BEING.
27 To be, in any form—what is that? (Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither;) If nothing lay more develop’d, the quahaug in its callous shell were enough.
Mine is no callous shell; I have instant conductors all over me, whether I pass or stop; They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me.
I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy; To touch my person to some one else’s is about as much as I can stand.
28 Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity, Flames and ether making a rush for my veins, Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them, My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly different from myself; On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs, Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip, Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial, Depriving me of my best, as for a purpose, Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist, Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and pasture-fields, Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away, They bribed to swap off with touch, and go and graze at the edges of me; No consideration, no regard for my draining strength or my anger; Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a while, Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry me.
The sentries desert every other part of me; They have left me helpless to a red marauder; They all come to the headland, to witness and assist against me.
I am given up by traitors; I talk wildly—I have lost my wits—I and nobody else am the greatest traitor; I went myself first to the headland—my own hands carried me there.
You villian touch! what are you doing? My breath is tight in its throat; Unclench your floodgates! you are too much for me.
29 Blind, loving, wrestling touch! sheath’d, hooded, sharp-tooth’d touch! Did it make you ache so, leaving me? Parting, track’d by arriving—perpetual payment of perpetual loan; Rich, showering rain, and recompense richer afterward.
Sprouts take and accumulate—stand by the curb prolific and vital: Landscapes, projected, masculine, full-sized and golden.
30 All truths wait in all things; They neither hasten their own delivery, nor resist it; They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon; The insignificant is as big to me as any; (What is less or more than a touch?) Logic and sermons never convince; The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.
Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so; Only what nobody denies is so.
A minute and a drop of me settle my brain; I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps, And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman, And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other, And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it becomes omnific, And until every one shall delight us, and we them.
31 I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars, And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren, And the tree-toad is a chef-d’oeuvre for the highest, And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven, And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery, And the cow crunching with depress’d head surpasses any statue, And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels, And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer’s girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and baking shortcake.
I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots, And am stucco’d with quadrupeds and birds all over, And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons, And call anything close again, when I desire it.
In vain the speeding or shyness; In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach; In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder’d bones; In vain objects stand leagues off, and assume manifold shapes; In vain the ocean settling in hollows, and the great monsters lying low; In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky; In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs; In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods; In vain the razor-bill’d auk sails far north to Labrador; I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff.
32 I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d; I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition; They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins; They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God; Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the mania of owning things; Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago; Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.
So they show their relations to me, and I accept them; They bring me tokens of myself—they evince them plainly in their possession.
I wonder where they get those tokens: Did I pass that way huge times ago, and negligently drop them? Myself moving forward then and now and forever, Gathering and showing more always and with velocity, Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them; Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers; Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms.
A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses, Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears, Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground, Eyes full of sparkling wickedness—ears finely cut, flexibly moving.
His nostrils dilate, as my heels embrace him; His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, as we race around and return.
I but use you a moment, then I resign you, stallion; Why do I need your paces, when I myself out-gallop them? Even, as I stand or sit, passing faster than you.
33 O swift wind! O space and time! now I see it is true, what I guessed at; What I guess’d when I loaf’d on the grass; What I guess’d while I lay alone in my bed, And again as I walk’d the beach under the paling stars of the morning.
My ties and ballasts leave me—I travel—I sail—my elbows rest in the sea-gaps; I skirt the sierras—my palms cover continents; I am afoot with my vision.
By the city’s quadrangular houses—in log huts—camping with lumbermen; Along the ruts of the turnpike—along the dry gulch and rivulet bed; Weeding my onion-patch, or hoeing rows of carrots and parsnips—crossing savannas—trailing in forests; Prospecting—gold-digging—girdling the trees of a new purchase; Scorch’d ankle-deep by the hot sand—hauling my boat down the shallow river; Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead—where the buck turns furiously at the hunter; Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock—where the otter is feeding on fish; Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the bayou; Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey—where the beaver pats the mud with his paddle-shaped tail; Over the growing sugar—over the yellow-flower’d cotton plant—over the rice in its low moist field; Over the sharp-peak’d farm house, with its scallop’d scum and slender shoots from the gutters; Over the western persimmon—over the long-leav’d corn—over the delicate blue-flower flax; Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and buzzer there with the rest; Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades in the breeze; Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, holding on by low scragged limbs; Walking the path worn in the grass, and beat through the leaves of the brush; Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods and the wheat-lot; Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve—where the great gold-bug drops through the dark; Where flails keep time on the barn floor; Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow; Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous shuddering of their hides; Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen—where andirons straddle the hearth-slab—where cobwebs fall in festoons from the rafters; Where trip-hammers crash—where the press is whirling its cylinders; Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes under its ribs; Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, (floating in it myself, and looking composedly down;) Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose—where the heat hatches pale-green eggs in the dented sand; Where the she-whale swims with her calf, and never forsakes it; Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long pennant of smoke; Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of the water; Where the half-burn’d brig is riding on unknown currents, Where shells grow to her slimy deck—where the dead are corrupting below; Where the dense-starr’d flag is borne at the head of the regiments; Approaching Manhattan, up by the long-stretching island; Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance; Upon a door-step—upon the horse-block of hard wood outside; Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs, or a good game of base-ball; At he-festivals, with blackguard jibes, ironical license, bull-dances, drinking, laughter; At the cider-mill, tasting the sweets of the brown mash, sucking the juice through a straw; At apple-peelings, wanting kisses for all the red fruit I find; At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, house-raisings: Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles, screams, weeps; Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard—where the dry-stalks are scattered—where the brood-cow waits in the hovel; Where the bull advances to do his masculine work—where the stud to the mare—where the cock is treading the hen; Where the heifers browse—where geese nip their food with short jerks; Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless and lonesome prairie; Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles far and near; Where the humming-bird shimmers—where the neck of the long-lived swan is curving and winding; Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where she laughs her near-human laugh; Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden, half hid by the high weeds; Where band-neck’d partridges roost in a ring on the ground with their heads out; Where burial coaches enter the arch’d gates of a cemetery; Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees; Where the yellow-crown’d heron comes to the edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs; Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools the warm noon; Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on the walnut-tree over the well; Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver-wired leaves; Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under conical firs; Through the gymnasium—through the curtain’d saloon—through the office or public hall; Pleas’d with the native, and pleas’d with the foreign—pleas’d with the new and old; Pleas’d with women, the homely as well as the handsome; Pleas’d with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and talks melodiously; Pleas’d with the tune of the choir of the white-wash’d church; Pleas’d with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist preacher, or any preacher—impress’d seriously at the camp-meeting: Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the whole forenoon—flatting the flesh of my nose on the thick plate-glass; Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn’d up to the clouds, My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, and I in the middle: Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek’d bush-boy—(behind me he rides at the drape of the day;) Far from the settlements, studying the print of animals’ feet, or the moccasin print; By the cot in the hospital, reaching lemonade to a feverish patient; Nigh the coffin’d corpse when all is still, examining with a candle: Voyaging to every port, to dicker and adventure; Hurrying with the modern crowd, as eager and fickle as any; Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife him; Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from me a long while; Walking the old hills of Judea, with the beautiful gentle God by my side; Speeding through space—speeding through heaven and the stars; Speeding amid the seven satellites, and the broad ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand miles; Speeding with tail’d meteors—throwing fire-balls like the rest; Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full mother in its belly; Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning, Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing; I tread day and night such roads.
I visit the orchards of spheres, and look at the product: And look at quintillions ripen’d, and look at quintillions green.
I fly the flight of the fluid and swallowing soul; My course runs below the soundings of plummets.
I help myself to material and immaterial; No guard can shut me off, nor law prevent me.
I anchor my ship for a little while only; My messengers continually cruise away, or bring their returns to me.
I go hunting polar furs and the seal—leaping chasms with a pike-pointed staff—clinging to topples of brittle and blue.
I ascend to the foretruck; I take my place late at night in the crow’s-nest; We sail the arctic sea—it is plenty light enough; Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the wonderful beauty; The enormous masses of ice pass me, and I pass them—the scenery is plain in all directions; The white-topt mountains show in the distance—I fling out my fancies toward them; (We are approaching some great battle-field in which we are soon to be engaged; We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment—we pass with still feet and caution; Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin’d city; The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities of the globe.
) I am a free companion—I bivouac by invading watchfires.
I turn the bridegroom out of bed, and stay with the bride myself; I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.
My voice is the wife’s voice, the screech by the rail of the stairs; They fetch my man’s body up, dripping and drown’d.
I understand the large hearts of heroes, The courage of present times and all times; How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the steam-ship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm; How he knuckled tight, and gave not back one inch, and was faithful of days and faithful of nights, And chalk’d in large letters, on a board, Be of good cheer, we will not desert you: How he follow’d with them, and tack’d with them—and would not give it up; How he saved the drifting company at last: How the lank loose-gown’d women look’d when boated from the side of their prepared graves; How the silent old-faced infants, and the lifted sick, and the sharp-lipp’d unshaved men: All this I swallow—it tastes good—I like it well—it becomes mine; I am the man—I suffer’d—I was there.
The disdain and calmness of olden martyrs; The mother, condemn’d for a witch, burnt with dry wood, her children gazing on; The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence, blowing, cover’d with sweat; The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck—the murderous buckshot and the bullets; All these I feel, or am.
I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs, Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen; I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn’d with the ooze of my skin; I fall on the weeds and stones; The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close, Taunt my dizzy ears, and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks.
Agonies are one of my changes of garments; I do not ask the wounded person how he feels—I myself become the wounded person; My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe.
I am the mash’d fireman with breast-bone broken; Tumbling walls buried me in their debris; Heat and smoke I inspired—I heard the yelling shouts of my comrades; I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels; They have clear’d the beams away—they tenderly lift me forth.
I lie in the night air in my red shirt—the pervading hush is for my sake; Painless after all I lie, exhausted but not so unhappy; White and beautiful are the faces around me—the heads are bared of their fire-caps; The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the torches.
Distant and dead resuscitate; They show as the dial or move as the hands of me—I am the clock myself.
I am an old artillerist—I tell of my fort’s bombardment; I am there again.
Again the long roll of the drummers; Again the attacking cannon, mortars; Again, to my listening ears, the cannon responsive.
I take part—I see and hear the whole; The cries, curses, roar—the plaudits for well-aim’d shots; The ambulanza slowly passing, trailing its red drip; Workmen searching after damages, making indispensable repairs; The fall of grenades through the rent roof—the fan-shaped explosion; The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in the air.
Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general—he furiously waves with his hand; He gasps through the clot, Mind not me—mind—the entrenchments.
34 Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth; (I tell not the fall of Alamo, Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo, The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo;) ’Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and twelve young men.
Retreating, they had form’d in a hollow square, with their baggage for breastworks; Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy’s, nine times their number, was the price they took in advance; Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone; They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv’d writing and seal, gave up their arms, and march’d back prisoners of war.
They were the glory of the race of rangers; Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship, Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affectionate, Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters, Not a single one over thirty years of age.
The second First-day morning they were brought out in squads, and massacred—it was beautiful early summer; The work commenced about five o’clock, and was over by eight.
None obey’d the command to kneel; Some made a mad and helpless rush—some stood stark and straight; A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart—the living and dead lay together; The maim’d and mangled dug in the dirt—the newcomers saw them there; Some, half-kill’d, attempted to crawl away; These were despatch’d with bayonets, or batter’d with the blunts of muskets; A youth not seventeen years old seiz’d his assassin till two more came to release him; The three were all torn, and cover’d with the boy’s blood.
At eleven o’clock began the burning of the bodies: That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men.
35 Would you hear of an old-fashion’d sea-fight? Would you learn who won by the light of the moon and stars? List to the story as my grandmother’s father, the sailor, told it to me.
Our foe was no skulk in his ship, I tell you, (said he;) His was the surly English pluck—and there is no tougher or truer, and never was, and never will be; Along the lower’d eve he came, horribly raking us.
We closed with him—the yards entangled—the cannon touch’d; My captain lash’d fast with his own hands.
We had receiv’d some eighteen pound shots under the water; On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at the first fire, killing all around, and blowing up overhead.
Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark; Ten o’clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks on the gain, and five feet of water reported; The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in the afterhold, to give them a chance for themselves.
The transit to and from the magazine is now stopt by the sentinels, They see so many strange faces, they do not know whom to trust.
Our frigate takes fire; The other asks if we demand quarter? If our colors are struck, and the fighting is done? Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my little captain, We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just begun our part of the fighting.
Only three guns are in use; One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy’s mainmast; Two, well served with grape and canister, silence his musketry and clear his decks.
The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially the main-top; They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.
Not a moment’s cease; The leaks gain fast on the pumps—the fire eats toward the powder-magazine.
One of the pumps has been shot away—it is generally thought we are sinking.
Serene stands the little captain; He is not hurried—his voice is neither high nor low; His eyes give more light to us than our battle-lanterns.
Toward twelve at night, there in the beams of the moon, they surrender to us.
36 Stretch’d and still lies the midnight; Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness; Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking—preparations to pass to the one we have conquer’d; The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet; Near by, the corpse of the child that serv’d in the cabin; The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curl’d whiskers; The flames, spite of all that can be done, flickering aloft and below; The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty; Formless stacks of bodies, and bodies by themselves—dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars, Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves, Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent, Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore, death-messages given in charge to survivors, The hiss of the surgeon’s knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw, Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long, dull, tapering groan; These so—these irretrievable.
37 O Christ! This is mastering me! In at the conquer’d doors they crowd.
I am possess’d.
I embody all presences outlaw’d or suffering; See myself in prison shaped like another man, And feel the dull unintermitted pain.
For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch; It is I let out


Bridges , Robert Seymour

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The Growth of Love

 1
They that in play can do the thing they would,
Having an instinct throned in reason's place,
--And every perfect action hath the grace
Of indolence or thoughtless hardihood--
These are the best: yet be there workmen good
Who lose in earnestness control of face,
Or reckon means, and rapt in effort base
Reach to their end by steps well understood.
Me whom thou sawest of late strive with the pains Of one who spends his strength to rule his nerve, --Even as a painter breathlessly who stains His scarcely moving hand lest it should swerve-- Behold me, now that I have cast my chains, Master of the art which for thy sake I serve.
2 For thou art mine: and now I am ashamed To have uséd means to win so pure acquist, And of my trembling fear that might have misst Thro' very care the gold at which I aim'd; And am as happy but to hear thee named, As are those gentle souls by angels kisst In pictures seen leaving their marble cist To go before the throne of grace unblamed.
Nor surer am I water hath the skill To quench my thirst, or that my strength is freed In delicate ordination as I will, Than that to be myself is all I need For thee to be most mine: so I stand still, And save to taste my joy no more take heed.
3 The whole world now is but the minister Of thee to me: I see no other scheme But universal love, from timeless dream Waking to thee his joy's interpreter.
I walk around and in the fields confer Of love at large with tree and flower and stream, And list the lark descant upon my theme, Heaven's musical accepted worshipper.
Thy smile outfaceth ill: and that old feud 'Twixt things and me is quash'd in our new truce; And nature now dearly with thee endued No more in shame ponders her old excuse, But quite forgets her frowns and antics rude, So kindly hath she grown to her new use.
4 The very names of things belov'd are dear, And sounds will gather beauty from their sense, As many a face thro' love's long residence Groweth to fair instead of plain and sere: But when I say thy name it hath no peer, And I suppose fortune determined thence Her dower, that such beauty's excellence Should have a perfect title for the ear.
Thus may I think the adopting Muses chose Their sons by name, knowing none would be heard Or writ so oft in all the world as those,-- Dan Chaucer, mighty Shakespeare, then for third The classic Milton, and to us arose Shelley with liquid music in the world.
5 The poets were good teachers, for they taught Earth had this joy; but that 'twould ever be That fortune should be perfected in me, My heart of hope dared not engage the thought.
So I stood low, and now but to be caught By any self-styled lords of the age with thee Vexes my modesty, lest they should see I hold them owls and peacocks, things of nought.
And when we sit alone, and as I please I taste thy love's full smile, and can enstate The pleasure of my kingly heart at ease, My thought swims like a ship, that with the weight Of her rich burden sleeps on the infinite seas Becalm'd, and cannot stir her golden freight.
6 While yet we wait for spring, and from the dry And blackening east that so embitters March, Well-housed must watch grey fields and meadows parch, And driven dust and withering snowflake fly; Already in glimpses of the tarnish'd sky The sun is warm and beckons to the larch, And where the covert hazels interarch Their tassell'd twigs, fair beds of primrose lie.
Beneath the crisp and wintry carpet hid A million buds but stay their blossoming; And trustful birds have built their nests amid The shuddering boughs, and only wait to sing Till one soft shower from the south shall bid, And hither tempt the pilgrim steps of spring.
7 In thee my spring of life hath bid the while A rose unfold beyond the summer's best, The mystery of joy made manifest In love's self-answering and awakening smile; Whereby the lips in wonder reconcile Passion with peace, and show desire at rest,-- A grace of silence by the Greek unguesst, That bloom'd to immortalize the Tuscan style When first the angel-song that faith hath ken'd Fancy pourtray'd, above recorded oath Of Israel's God, or light of poem pen'd; The very countenance of plighted troth 'Twixt heaven and earth, where in one moment blend The hope of one and happiness of both.
8 For beauty being the best of all we know Sums up the unsearchable and secret aims Of nature, and on joys whose earthly names Were never told can form and sense bestow; And man hath sped his instinct to outgo The step of science; and against her shames Imagination stakes out heavenly claims, Building a tower above the head of woe.
Nor is there fairer work for beauty found Than that she win in nature her release From all the woes that in the world abound: Nay with his sorrow may his love increase, If from man's greater need beauty redound, And claim his tears for homage of his peace.
9 Thus to thy beauty doth my fond heart look, That late dismay'd her faithless faith forbore; And wins again her love lost in the lore Of schools and script of many a learned book: For thou what ruthless death untimely took Shalt now in better brotherhood restore, And save my batter'd ship that far from shore High on the dismal deep in tempest shook.
So in despite of sorrow lately learn'd I still hold true to truth since thou art true, Nor wail the woe which thou to joy hast turn'd Nor come the heavenly sun and bathing blue To my life's need more splendid and unearn'd Than hath thy gift outmatch'd desire and due.
10 Winter was not unkind because uncouth; His prison'd time made me a closer guest, And gave thy graciousness a warmer zest, Biting all else with keen and angry tooth And bravelier the triumphant blood of youth Mantling thy cheek its happy home possest, And sterner sport by day put strength to test, And custom's feast at night gave tongue to truth Or say hath flaunting summer a device To match our midnight revelry, that rang With steel and flame along the snow-girt ice? Or when we hark't to nightingales that sang On dewy eves in spring, did they entice To gentler love than winter's icy fang? 11 There's many a would-be poet at this hour, Rhymes of a love that he hath never woo'd, And o'er his lamplit desk in solitude Deems that he sitteth in the Muses' bower: And some the flames of earthly love devour, Who have taken no kiss of Nature, nor renew'd In the world's wilderness with heavenly food The sickly body of their perishing power.
So none of all our company, I boast, But now would mock my penning, could they see How down the right it maps a jagged coast; Seeing they hold the manlier praise to be Strong hand and will, and the heart best when most 'Tis sober, simple, true, and fancy-free.
12 How could I quarrel or blame you, most dear, Who all thy virtues gavest and kept back none; Kindness and gentleness, truth without peer, And beauty that my fancy fed upon? Now not my life's contrition for my fault Can blot that day, nor work me recompence, Tho' I might worthily thy worth exalt, Making thee long amends for short offence.
For surely nowhere, love, if not in thee Are grace and truth and beauty to be found; And all my praise of these can only be A praise of thee, howe'er by thee disown'd: While still thou must be mine tho' far removed, And I for one offence no more beloved.
13 Now since to me altho' by thee refused The world is left, I shall find pleasure still; The art that most I have loved but little used Will yield a world of fancies at my will: And tho' where'er thou goest it is from me, I where I go thee in my heart must bear; And what thou wert that wilt thou ever be, My choice, my best, my loved, and only fair.
Farewell, yet think not such farewell a change From tenderness, tho' once to meet or part But on short absence so could sense derange That tears have graced the greeting of my heart; They were proud drops and had my leave to fall, Not on thy pity for my pain to call.
14 When sometimes in an ancient house where state From noble ancestry is handed on, We see but desolation thro' the gate, And richest heirlooms all to ruin gone; Because maybe some fancied shame or fear, Bred of disease or melancholy fate, Hath driven the owner from his rightful sphere To wander nameless save to pity or hate: What is the wreck of all he hath in fief When he that hath is wrecking? nought is fine Unto the sick, nor doth it burden grief That the house perish when the soul doth pine.
Thus I my state despise, slain by a sting So slight 'twould not have hurt a meaner thing.
15 Who builds a ship must first lay down the keel Of health, whereto the ribs of mirth are wed: And knit, with beams and knees of strength, a bed For decks of purity, her floor and ceil.
Upon her masts, Adventure, Pride, and Zeal, To fortune's wind the sails of purpose spread: And at the prow make figured maidenhead O'erride the seas and answer to the wheel.
And let him deep in memory's hold have stor'd Water of Helicon: and let him fit The needle that doth true with heaven accord: Then bid her crew, love, diligence and wit With justice, courage, temperance come aboard, And at her helm the master reason sit.
16 This world is unto God a work of art, Of which the unaccomplish'd heavenly plan Is hid in life within the creature's heart, And for perfection looketh unto man.
Ah me! those thousand ages: with what slow Pains and persistence were his idols made, Destroy'd and made, ere ever he could know The mighty mother must be so obey'd.
For lack of knowledge and thro' little skill His childish mimicry outwent his aim; His effort shaped the genius of his will; Till thro' distinction and revolt he came, True to his simple terms of good and ill, Seeking the face of Beauty without blame.
17 Say who be these light-bearded, sunburnt faces In negligent and travel-stain'd array, That in the city of Dante come to-day, Haughtily visiting her holy places? O these be noble men that hide their graces, True England's blood, her ancient glory's stay, By tales of fame diverted on their way Home from the rule of oriental races.
Life-trifling lions these, of gentle eyes And motion delicate, but swift to fire For honour, passionate where duty lies, Most loved and loving: and they quickly tire Of Florence, that she one day more denies The embrace of wife and son, of sister or sire.
18 Where San Miniato's convent from the sun At forenoon overlooks the city of flowers I sat, and gazing on her domes and towers Call'd up her famous children one by one: And three who all the rest had far outdone, Mild Giotto first, who stole the morning hours, I saw, and god-like Buonarroti's powers, And Dante, gravest poet, her much-wrong'd son.
Is all this glory, I said, another's praise? Are these heroic triumphs things of old, And do I dead upon the living gaze? Or rather doth the mind, that can behold The wondrous beauty of the works and days, Create the image that her thoughts enfold? 19 Rejoice, ye dead, where'er your spirits dwell, Rejoice that yet on earth your fame is bright; And that your names, remember'd day and night, Live on the lips of those that love you well.
'Tis ye that conquer'd have the powers of hell, Each with the special grace of your delight: Ye are the world's creators, and thro' might Of everlasting love ye did excel.
Now ye are starry names, above the storm And war of Time and nature's endless wrong Ye flit, in pictured truth and peaceful form, Wing'd with bright music and melodious song,-- The flaming flowers of heaven, making May-dance In dear Imagination's rich pleasance.
20 The world still goeth about to shew and hide, Befool'd of all opinion, fond of fame: But he that can do well taketh no pride, And see'th his error, undisturb'd by shame: So poor's the best that longest life can do, The most so little, diligently done; So mighty is the beauty that doth woo, So vast the joy that love from love hath won.
God's love to win is easy, for He loveth Desire's fair attitude, nor strictly weighs The broken thing, but all alike approveth Which love hath aim'd at Him: that is heaven's praise: And if we look for any praise on earth, 'Tis in man's love: all else is nothing worth.
21 O flesh and blood, comrade to tragic pain And clownish merriment whose sense could wake Sermons in stones, and count death but an ache, All things as vanity, yet nothing vain: The world, set in thy heart, thy passionate strain Reveal'd anew; but thou for man didst make Nature twice natural, only to shake Her kingdom with the creatures of thy brain.
Lo, Shakespeare, since thy time nature is loth To yield to art her fair supremacy; In conquering one thou hast so enrichèd both.
What shall I say? for God--whose wise decree Confirmeth all He did by all He doth-- Doubled His whole creation making thee.
22 I would be a bird, and straight on wings I arise, And carry purpose up to the ends of the air In calm and storm my sails I feather, and where By freezing cliffs the unransom'd wreckage lies: Or, strutting on hot meridian banks, surprise The silence: over plains in the moonlight bare I chase my shadow, and perch where no bird dare In treetops torn by fiercest winds of the skies.
Poor simple birds, foolish birds! then I cry, Ye pretty pictures of delight, unstir'd By the only joy of knowing that ye fly; Ye are not what ye are, but rather, sum'd in a word, The alphabet of a god's idea, and I Who master it, I am the only bird.
23 O weary pilgrims, chanting of your woe, That turn your eyes to all the peaks that shine, Hailing in each the citadel divine The which ye thought to have enter'd long ago; Until at length your feeble steps and slow Falter upon the threshold of the shrine, And your hearts overhurden'd doubt in fine Whether it be Jerusalem or no: Dishearten'd pilgrims, I am one of you; For, having worshipp'd many a barren face, I scarce now greet the goal I journey'd to: I stand a pagan in the holy place; Beneath the lamp of truth I am found untrue, And question with the God that I embrace.
24 Spring hath her own bright days of calm and peace; Her melting air, at every breath we draw, Floods heart with love to praise God's gracious law: But suddenly--so short is pleasure's lease-- The cold returns, the buds from growing cease, And nature's conquer'd face is full of awe; As now the trait'rous north with icy flaw Freezes the dew upon the sick lamb's fleece, And 'neath the mock sun searching everywhere Rattles the crispèd leaves with shivering din: So that the birds are silent with despair Within the thickets; nor their armour thin Will gaudy flies adventure in the air, Nor any lizard sun his spotted skin.
25 Nothing is joy without thee: I can find No rapture in the first relays of spring, In songs of birds, in young buds opening, Nothing inspiriting and nothing kind; For lack of thee, who once wert throned behind All beauty, like a strength where graces cling,-- The jewel and heart of light, which everything Wrestled in rivalry to hold enshrined.
Ah! since thou'rt fled, and I in each fair sight The sweet occasion of my joy deplore, Where shall I seek thee best, or whom invite Within thy sacred temples and adore? Who shall fill thought and truth with old delight, And lead my soul in life as heretofore? 26 The work is done, and from the fingers fall The bloodwarm tools that brought the labour thro': The tasking eye that overrunneth all Rests, and affirms there is no more to do.
Now the third joy of making, the sweet flower Of blessed work, bloometh in godlike spirit; Which whoso plucketh holdeth for an hour The shrivelling vanity of mortal merit.
And thou, my perfect work, thou'rt of to-day; To-morrow a poor and alien thing wilt be, True only should the swift life stand at stay: Therefore farewell, nor look to bide with me.
Go find thy friends, if there be one to love thee: Casting thee forth, my child, I rise above thee.
27 The fabled sea-snake, old Leviathan, Or else what grisly beast of scaly chine That champ'd the ocean-wrack and swash'd the brine, Before the new and milder days of man, Had never rib nor bray nor swindging fan Like his iron swimmer of the Clyde or Tyne, Late-born of golden seed to breed a line Of offspring swifter and more huge of plan.
Straight is her going, for upon the sun When once she hath look'd, her path and place are plain; With tireless speed she smiteth one by one The shuddering seas and foams along the main; And her eased breath, when her wild race is run, Roars thro' her nostrils like a hurricane.
28 A thousand times hath in my heart's behoof My tongue been set his passion to impart; A thousand times hath my too coward heart My mouth reclosed and fix'd it to the roof; Then with such cunning hath it held aloof, A thousand times kept silence with such art That words could do no more: yet on thy part Hath silence given a thousand times reproof.
I should be bolder, seeing I commend Love, that my dilatory purpose primes, But fear lest with my fears my hope should end: Nay, I would truth deny and burn my rhymes, Renew my sorrows rather than offend, A thousand times, and yet a thousand times.
29 I travel to thee with the sun's first rays, That lift the dark west and unwrap the night; I dwell beside thee when he walks the height, And fondly toward thee at his setting gaze.
I wait upon thy coming, but always-- Dancing to meet my thoughts if they invite-- Thou hast outrun their longing with delight, And in my solitude dost mock my praise.
Now doth my drop of time transcend the whole: I see no fame in Khufu's pyramid, No history where loveless Nile doth roll.
--This is eternal life, which doth forbid Mortal detraction to the exalted soul, And from her inward eye all fate hath hid.
30 My lady pleases me and I please her; This know we both, and I besides know well Wherefore I love her, and I love to tell My love, as all my loving songs aver.
But what on her part could the passion stir, Tho' 'tis more difficult for love to spell, Yet can I dare divine how this befel, Nor will her lips deny it if I err.
She loves me first because I love her, then Loves me for knowing why she should be loved, And that I love to praise her, loves again.
So from her beauty both our loves are moved, And by her beauty are sustain'd; nor when The earth falls from the sun is this disproved.
31 In all things beautiful, I cannot see Her sit or stand, but love is stir'd anew: 'Tis joy to watch the folds fall as they do, And all that comes is past expectancy.
If she be silent, silence let it be; He who would bid her speak might sit and sue The deep-brow'd Phidian Jove to be untrue To his two thousand years' solemnity.
Ah, but her launchèd passion, when she sings, Wins on the hearing like a shapen prow Borne by the mastery of its urgent wings: Or if she deign her wisdom, she doth show She hath the intelligence of heavenly things, Unsullied by man's mortal overthrow.
32 Thus to be humbled: 'tis that ranging pride No refuge hath; that in his castle strong Brave reason sits beleaguer'd, who so long Kept field, but now must starve where he doth hide; That industry, who once the foe defied, Lies slaughter'd in the trenches; that the throng Of idle fancies pipe their foolish song, Where late the puissant captains fought and died.
Thus to be humbled: 'tis to be undone; A forest fell'd; a city razed to ground; A cloak unsewn, unwoven and unspun Till not a thread remains that can be wound.
And yet, O lover, thee, the ruin'd one, Love who hath humbled thus hath also crown'd.
33 I care not if I live, tho' life and breath Have never been to me so dear and sweet.
I care not if I die, for I could meet-- Being so happy--happily my death.
I care not if I love; to-day she saith She loveth, and love's history is complete.
Nor care I if she love me; at her feet My spirit bows entranced and worshippeth.
I have no care for what was most my care, But all around me see fresh beauty born, And common sights grown lovelier than they were: I dream of love, and in the light of morn Tremble, beholding all things very fair And strong with strength that puts my strength to scorn.
34 O my goddess divine sometimes I say Now let this word for ever and all suffice; Thou art insatiable, and yet not twice Can even thy lover give his soul away: And for my acts, that at thy feet I lay; For never any other, by device Of wisdom, love or beauty, could entice My homage to the measure of this day.
I have no more to give thee: lo, I have sold My life, have emptied out my heart, and spent Whate'er I had; till like a beggar, bold With nought to lose, I laugh and am content.
A beggar kisses thee; nay, love, behold, I fear not: thou too art in beggarment.
35 All earthly beauty hath one cause and proof, To lead the pilgrim soul to beauty above: Yet lieth the greater bliss so far aloof, That few there be are wean'd from earthly love.
Joy's ladder it is, reaching from home to home, The best of all the work that all was good; Whereof 'twas writ the angels aye upclomb, Down sped, and at the top the Lord God stood.
But I my time abuse, my eyes by day Center'd on thee, by night my heart on fire-- Letting my number'd moments run away-- Nor e'en 'twixt night and day to heaven aspire: So true it is that what the eye seeth not But slow is loved, and loved is soon forgot.
36 O my life's mischief, once my love's delight, That drew'st a mortgage on my heart's estate, Whose baneful clause is never out of date, Nor can avenging time restore my right: Whom first to lose sounded that note of spite, Whereto my doleful days were tuned by fate: That art the well-loved cause of all my hate, The sun whose wandering makes my hopeless night: Thou being in all my lacking all I lack, It is thy goodness turns my grace to crime, Thy fleetness from my goal which holds me back; Wherefore my feet go out of step with time, My very grasp of life is old and slack, And even my passion falters in my rhyme.
37 At times with hurried hoofs and scattering dust I race by field or highway, and my horse Spare not, but urge direct in headlong course Unto some fair far hill that gain I must: But near arrived the vision soon mistrust, Rein in, and stand as one who sees the source Of strong illusion, shaming thought to force From off his mind the soil of passion's gust.
My brow I bare then, and with slacken'd speed Can view the country pleasant on all sides, And to kind salutation give good heed: I ride as one who for his pleasure rides, And stroke the neck of my delighted steed, And seek what cheer the village inn provides.
38 An idle June day on the sunny Thames, Floating or rowing as our fancy led, Now in the high beams basking as we sped, Now in green shade gliding by mirror'd stems; By lock and weir and isle, and many a spot Of memoried pleasure, glad with strength and skill, Friendship, good wine, and mirth, that serve not ill The heavenly Muse, tho' she requite them not: I would have life--thou saidst--all as this day, Simple enjoyment calm in its excess, With not a grief to cloud, and not a ray Of passion overhot my peace to oppress; With no ambition to reproach delay, Nor rapture to disturb its happiness.
39 A man that sees by chance his picture, made As once a child he was, handling some toy, Will gaze to find his spirit within the boy, Yet hath no secret with the soul pourtray'd: He cannot think the simple thought which play'd Upon those features then so frank and coy; 'Tis his, yet oh! not his: and o'er the joy His fatherly pity bends in tears dismay'd.
Proud of his prime maybe he stand at best, And lightly wear his strength, or aim it high, In knowledge, skill and courage self-possest:-- Yet in the pictured face a charm doth lie, The one thing lost more worth than all the rest, Which seeing, he fears to say This child was I.
40 Tears of love, tears of joy and tears of care, Comforting tears that fell uncomforted, Tears o'er the new-born, tears beside the dead, Tears of hope, pride and pity, trust and prayer, Tears of contrition; all tears whatsoe'er Of tenderness or kindness had she shed Who here is pictured, ere upon her head The fine gold might be turn'd to silver there.
The smile that charm'd the father hath given place Unto the furrow'd care wrought by the son; But virtue hath transform'd all change to grace: So that I praise the artist, who hath done A portrait, for my worship, of the face Won by the heart my father's heart that won.
41 If I could but forget and not recall So well my time of pleasure and of play, When ancient nature was all new and gay, Light as the fashion that doth last enthrall,-- Ah mighty nature, when my heart was small, Nor dream'd what fearful searchings underlay The flowers and leafy ecstasy of May, The breathing summer sloth, the scented fall: Could I forget, then were the fight not hard, Press'd in the mêlée of accursed things, Having such help in love and such reward: But that 'tis I who once--'tis this that stings-- Once dwelt within the gate that angels guard, Where yet I'd be had I but heavenly wings.
42 When I see childhood on the threshold seize The prize of life from age and likelihood, I mourn time's change that will not be withstood, Thinking how Christ said Be like one of these.
For in the forest among many trees Scarce one in all is found that hath made good The virgin pattern of its slender wood, That courtesied in joy to every breeze; But scath'd, but knotted trunks that raise on high Their arms in stiff contortion, strain'd and bare Whose patriarchal crowns in sorrow sigh.
So, little children, ye--nay nay, ye ne'er From me shall learn how sure the change and nigh, When ye shall share our strength and mourn to share.
43 When parch'd with thirst, astray on sultry sand The traveller faints, upon his closing ear Steals a fantastic music: he may hear The babbling fountain of his native land.
Before his eyes the vision seems to stand, Where at its terraced brink the maids appear, Who fill their deep urns at its waters clear, And not refuse the help of lover's hand.
O cruel jest--he cries, as some one flings The sparkling drops in sport or shew of ire-- O shameless, O contempt of holy things.
But never of their wanton play they tire, As not athirst they sit beside the springs, While he must quench in death his lost desire.
44 The image of thy love, rising on dark And desperate days over my sullen sea, Wakens again fresh hope and peace in me, Gleaming above upon my groaning bark.
Whate'er my sorrow be, I then may hark A loving voice: whate'er my terror be, This heavenly comfort still I win from thee, To shine my lodestar that wert once my mark.
Prodigal nature makes us but to taste One perfect joy, which given she niggard grows; And lest her precious gift should run to waste, Adds to its loss a thousand lesser woes: So to the memory of the gift that graced Her hand, her graceless hand more grace bestows.
45 In this neglected, ruin'd edifice Of works unperfected and broken schemes, Where is the promise of my early dreams, The smile of beauty and the pearl of price? No charm is left now that could once entice Wind-wavering fortune from her golden streams, And full in flight decrepit purpose seems, Trailing the banner of his old device.
Within the house a frore and numbing air Has chill'd endeavour: sickly memories reign In every room, and ghosts are on the stair: And hope behind the dusty window-pane Watches the days go by, and bow'd with care Forecasts her last reproach and mortal stain.
46 Once I would say, before thy vision came, My joy, my life, my love, and with some kind Of knowledge speak, and think I knew my mind Of heaven and hope, and each word hit its aim.
Whate'er their sounds be, now all mean the same, Denoting each the fair that none can find; Or if I say them, 'tis as one long blind Forgets the sights that he was used to name.
Now if men speak of love, 'tis not my love; Nor are their hopes nor joys mine, nor their life Of praise the life that I think honour of: Nay tho' they turn from house and child and wife And self, and in the thought of heaven above Hold, as do I, all mortal things at strife.
47 Since then 'tis only pity looking back, Fear looking forward, and the busy mind Will in one woeful moment more upwind Than lifelong years unroll of bitter or black; What is man's privilege, his hoarding knack Of memory with foreboding so combined, Whereby he comes to dream he hath of kind The perpetuity which all things lack? Which but to hope is doubtful joy, to have Being a continuance of what, alas, We mourn, and scarcely hear with to the grave; Or something so unknown that it o'erpass The thought of comfort, and the sense that gave Cannot consider it thro' any glass.
48 Come gentle sleep, I woo thee: come and take Not now the child into thine arms, from fright Composed by drowsy tune and shaded light, Whom ignorant of thee thou didst nurse and make; Nor now the boy, who scorn'd thee for the sake Of growing knowledge or mysterious night, Tho' with fatigue thou didst his limbs invite, And heavily weigh the eyes that would not wake; No, nor the man severe, who from his best Failing, alert fled to thee, that his breath, Blood, force and fire should come at morn redrest; But me; from whom thy comfort tarrieth, For all my wakeful prayer sent without rest To thee, O shew and shadow of my death.
49 The spirit's eager sense for sad or gay Filleth with what he will our vessel full: Be joy his bent, he waiteth not joy's day But like a child at any toy will pull: If sorrow, he will weep for fancy's sake, And spoil heaven's plenty with forbidden care.
What fortune most denies we slave to take; Nor can fate load us more than we can bear.
Since pleasure with the having disappeareth, He who hath least in hand hath most at heart, While he keep hope: as he who alway feareth A grief that never comes hath yet the smart; And heavier far is our self-wrought distress, For when God sendeth sorrow, it doth bless.
50 The world comes not to an end: her city-hives Swarm with the tokens of a changeless trade, With rolling wheel, driver and flagging jade, Rich men and beggars, children, priests and wives.
New homes on old are set, as lives on lives; Invention with invention overlaid: But still or tool or toy or book or blade Shaped for the hand, that holds and toils and strives.
The men to-day toil as their fathers taught, With little better'd means; for works depend On works and overlap, and thought on thought: And thro' all change the smiles of hope amend The weariest face, the same love changed in nought: In this thing too the world comes not to an end.
51 O my uncared-for songs, what are ye worth, That in my secret book with so much care I write you, this one here and that one there, Marking the time and order of your birth? How, with a fancy so unkind to mirth, A sense so hard, a style so worn and bare, Look ye for any welcome anywhere From any shelf or heart-home on the earth? Should others ask you this, say then I yearn'd To write you such as once, when I was young, Finding I should have loved and thereto turn'd.
'Twere something yet to live again among The gentle youth beloved, and where I learn'd My art, be there remember'd for my song.
52 Who takes the census of the living dead, Ere the day come when memory shall o'ercrowd The kingdom of their fame, and for that proud And airy people find no room nor stead? Ere hoarding Time, that ever thrusteth back The fairest treasures of his ancient store, Better with best confound, so he may pack His greedy gatherings closer, more and more? Let the true Muse rewrite her sullied page, And purge her story of the men of hate, That they go dirgeless down to Satan's rage With all else foul, deform'd and miscreate: She hath full toil to keep the names of love Honour'd on earth, as they are bright above.
53 I heard great Hector sounding war's alarms, Where thro' the listless ghosts chiding he strode, As tho' the Greeks besieged his last abode, And he his Troy's hope still, her king-at-arms.
But on those gentle meads, which Lethe charms With weary oblivion, his passion glow'd Like the cold night-worm's candle, and only show'd Such mimic flame as neither heats nor harms.
'Twas plain to read, even by those shadows quaint, How rude catastrophe had dim'd his day, And blighted all his cheer with stern complaint: To arms! to arms! what more the voice would say Was swallow'd in the valleys, and grew faint Upon the thin air, as he pass'd away.
54 Since not the enamour'd sun with glance more fond Kisses the foliage of his sacred tree, Than doth my waking thought arise on thee, Loving none near thee, like thee nor beyond; Nay, since I am sworn thy slave, and in the bond Is writ my promise of eternity Since to such high hope thou'st encouraged me, That if thou look but from me I despond; Since thou'rt my all in all, O think of this: Think of the dedication of my youth: Think of my loyalty, my joy, my bliss: Think of my sorrow, my despair and ruth, My sheer annihilation if I miss: Think--if thou shouldst be false--think of thy truth.
55 These meagre rhymes, which a returning mood Sometimes o'errateth, I as oft despise; And knowing them illnatured, stiff and rude, See them as others with contemptuous eyes.
Nay, and I wonder less at God's respect For man, a minim jot in time and space, Than at the soaring faith of His elect, That gift of gifts, the comfort of His grace.
O truth unsearchable, O heavenly love, Most infinitely tender, so to touch The work that we can meanly reckon of: Surely--I say--we are favour'd overmuch.
But of this wonder, what doth most amaze Is that we know our love is held for praise.
56 Beauty sat with me all the summer day, Awaiting the sure triumph of her eye; Nor mark'd I till we parted, how, hard by, Love in her train stood ready for his prey.
She, as too proud to join herself the fray, Trusting too much to her divine ally, When she saw victory tarry, chid him--"Why Dost thou not at one stroke this rebel slay?" Then generous Love, who holds my heart in fee, Told of our ancient truce: so from the fight We straight withdrew our forces, all the three.
Baffled but not dishearten'd she took flight Scheming new tactics: Love came home with me, And prompts my measured verses as I write.
57 In autumn moonlight, when the white air wan Is fragrant in the wake of summer hence, 'Tis sweet to sit entranced, and muse thereon In melancholy and godlike indolence: When the proud spirit, lull'd by mortal prime To fond pretence of immortality, Vieweth all moments from the birth of time, All things whate'er have been or yet shall be.
And like the garden, where the year is spent, The ruin of old life is full of yearning, Mingling poetic rapture of lament With flowers and sunshine of spring's sure returning; Only in visions of the white air wan By godlike fancy seized and dwelt upon.
58 When first I saw thee, dearest, if I say The spells that conjure back the hour and place, And evermore I look upon thy face, As in the spring of years long pass'd away; No fading of thy beauty's rich array, No detriment of age on thee I trace, But time's defeat written in spoils of grace, From rivals robb'd, whom thou didst pity and slay.
So hath thy growth been, thus thy faith is true, Unchanged in change, still to my growing sense, To life's desire the same, and nothing new: But as thou wert in dream and prescience At love's arising, now thou stand'st to view In the broad noon of his magnificence.
59 'Twas on the very day winter took leave Of those fair fields I love, when to the skies The fragrant Earth was smiling in surprise At that her heaven-descended, quick reprieve, I wander'd forth my sorrow to relieve Yet walk'd amid sweet pleasure in such wise As Adam went alone in Paradise, Before God of His pity fashion'd Eve.
And out of tune with all the joy around I laid me down beneath a flowering tree, And o'er my senses crept a sleep profound; In which it seem'd that thou wert given to me, Rending my body, where with hurried sound I feel my heart beat, when I think of thee.
60 Love that I know, love I am wise in, love, My strength, my pride, my grace, my skill untaught, My faith here upon earth, my hope above, My contemplation and perpetual thought: The pleasure of my fancy, my heart's fire, My joy, my peace, my praise, my happy theme, The aim of all my doing, my desire Of being, my life by day, by night my dream: Love, my sweet melancholy, my distress, My pain, my doubt, my trouble, my despair, My only folly and unhappiness, And in my careless moments still my care: O love, sweet love, earthly love, love difvine, Say'st thou to-day, O love, that thou art mine? 61 The dark and serious angel, who so long Vex'd his immortal strength in charge of me, Hath smiled for joy and fled in liberty To take his pastime with the peerless throng.
Oft had I done his noble keeping wrong, Wounding his heart to wonder what might be God's purpose in a soul of such degree; And there he had left me but for mandate strong.
But seeing thee with me now, his task at close He knoweth, and wherefore he was bid to stay, And work confusion of so many foes: The thanks that he doth look for, here I pay, Yet fear some heavenly envy, as he goes Unto what great reward I cannot say.
62 I will be what God made me, nor protest Against the bent of genius in my time, That science of my friends robs all the best, While I love beauty, and was born to rhyme.
Be they our mighty men, and let me dwell In shadow among the mighty shades of old, With love's forsaken palace for my cell; Whence I look forth and all the world behold, And say, These better days, in best things worse, This bastardy of time's magnificence, Will mend in fashion and throw off the curse, To crown new love with higher excellence.
Curs'd tho' I be to live my life alone, My toil is for man's joy, his joy my own.
63 I live on hope and that I think do all Who come into this world, and since I see Myself in swim with such good company, I take my comfort whatsoe'er befall.
I abide and abide, as if more stout and tall My spirit would grow by waiting like a tree And, clear of others' toil, it pleaseth me In dreams their quick ambition to forestall And if thro' careless eagerness I slide To some accomplishment, I give my voice Still to desire, and in desire abide.
I have no stake abroad; if I rejoice In what is done or doing, I confide Neither to friend nor foe my secret choice.
64 Ye blessed saints, that now in heaven enjoy The purchase of those tears, the world's disdain, Doth Love still with his war your peace annoy, Or hath Death freed you from his ancient pain? Have ye no springtide, and no burst of May In flowers and leafy trees, when solemn night Pants with love-music, and the holy day Breaks on the ear with songs of heavenly light? What make ye and what strive for? keep ye thought Of us, or in new excellence divine Is old forgot? or do ye count for nought What the Greek did and what the Florentine? We keep your memories well : O in your store Live not our best joys treasured evermore? 65 Ah heavenly joy But who hath ever heard, Who hath seen joy, or who shall ever find Joy's language? There is neither speech nor word Nought but itself to teach it to mankind.
Scarce in our twenty thousand painful days We may touch something: but there lives--beyond The best of art, or nature's kindest phase-- The hope whereof our spirit is fain and fond: The cause of beauty given to man's desires Writ in the expectancy of starry skies, The faith which gloweth in our fleeting fires, The aim of all the good that here we prize; Which but to love, pursue and pray for well Maketh earth heaven, and to forget it, hell.
66 My wearied heart, whenever, after all, Its loves and yearnings shall be told complete, When gentle death shall bid it cease to beat, And from all dear illusions disenthrall: However then thou shalt appear to call My fearful heart, since down at others' feet It bade me kneel so oft, I'll not retreat From thee, nor fear before thy feet to fall.
And I shall say, "Receive this loving heart Which err'd in sorrow only; and in sin Took no delight; but being forced apart From thee, without thee hoping thee to win, Most prized what most thou madest as thou art On earth, till heaven were open to enter in.
" 67 Dreary was winter, wet with changeful sting Of clinging snowfall and fast-flying frost; And bitterer northwinds then withheld the spring, That dallied with her promise till 'twas lost.
A sunless and half-hearted summer drown'd The flowers in needful and unwelcom'd rain; And Autumn with a sad smile fled uncrown'd From fruitless orchards and unripen'd grain.
But could the skies of this most desolate year In its last month learn with our love to glow, Men yet should rank its cloudless atmosphere Above the sunsets of five years ago: Of my great praise too part should be its own, Now reckon'd peerless for thy love alone 68 Away now, lovely Muse, roam and be free: Our commerce ends for aye, thy task is done: Tho' to win thee I left all else unwon, Thou, whom I most have won, art not for me.
My first desire, thou too forgone must be, Thou too, O much lamented now, tho' none Will turn to pity thy forsaken son, Nor thy divine sisters will weep for thee.
None will weep for thee : thou return, O Muse, To thy Sicilian fields I once have been On thy loved hills, and where thou first didst use Thy sweetly balanced rhyme, O thankless queen, Have pluck'd and wreath'd thy flowers; but do thou choose Some happier brow to wear thy garlands green.
69 Eternal Father, who didst all create, In whom we live, and to whose bosom move, To all men be Thy name known, which is Love, Till its loud praises sound at heaven's high gate.
Perfect Thy kingdom in our passing state, That here on earth Thou may'st as well approve Our service, as Thou ownest theirs above, Whose joy we echo and in pain await.
Grant body and soul each day their daily bread And should in spite of grace fresh woe begin, Even as our anger soon is past and dead Be Thy remembrance mortal of our sin: By Thee in paths of peace Thy sheep be led, And in the vale of terror comforted.


Wordsworth , William

 | 

LOVE

  All Thoughts, all Passions, all Delights,
  Whatever stirs this mortal Frame,
  All are but Ministers of Love,
    And feed his sacred flame.

  Oft in my waking dreams do I
  Live o'er again that happy hour,
  When midway on the Mount I lay
    Beside the Ruin'd Tower.

  The Moonshine stealing o'er the scene
  Had blended with the Lights of Eve;
  And she was there, my Hope, my Joy,
    My own dear Genevieve!

  She lean'd against the Armed Man,
  The Statue of the Armed Knight:
  She stood and listen'd to my Harp
    Amid the ling'ring Light.

  Few Sorrows hath she of her own,
  My Hope, my Joy, my Genevieve!
  She loves me best, whene'er I sing
    The Songs, that make her grieve.

  I play'd a soft and doleful Air,
  I sang an old and moving Story—
  An old rude Song that fitted well
    The Ruin wild and hoary.

  She listen'd with a flitting Blush,
  With downcast Eyes and modest Grace;
  For well she knew, I could not choose
    But gaze upon her Face.

  I told her of the Knight, that wore
  Upon his Shield a burning Brand;
  And that for ten long Years he woo'd
    The Lady of the Land.

  I told her, how he pin'd: and, ah!
  The low, the deep, the pleading tone,
  With which I sang another's Love,
    Interpreted my own.

  She listen'd with a flitting Blush,
  With downcast Eyes and modest Grace;
  And she forgave me, that I gaz'd
    Too fondly on her Face!

  But when I told the cruel scorn
  Which craz'd this bold and lovely Knight,
  And that be cross'd the mountain woods
    Nor rested day nor night;

  That sometimes from the savage Den,
  And sometimes from the darksome Shade,
  And sometimes starting up at once
    In green and sunny Glade,

  There came, and look'd him in the face,
  An Angel beautiful and bright;
  And that he knew, it was a Fiend,
    This miserable Knight!

  And that, unknowing what he did,
  He leapt amid a murd'rous Band,
  And sav'd from Outrage worse than Death
    The Lady of the Land;

  And how she wept and clasp'd his knees
  And how she tended him in vain—
  And ever strove to expiate
    The Scorn, that craz'd his Brain

  And that she nurs'd him in a Cave;
  And how his Madness went away
  When on the yellow forest leaves
    A dying Man he lay;

  His dying words—but when I reach'd
  That tenderest strain of all the Ditty,
  My falt'ring Voice and pausing Harp
    Disturb'd her Soul with Pity!

  All Impulses of Soul and Sense
  Had thrill'd my guileless Genevieve,
  The Music, and the doleful Tale,
    The rich and balmy Eve;

  And Hopes, and Fears that kindle Hope,
  An undistinguishable Throng!
  And gentle Wishes long subdued,
    Subdued and cherish'd long!

  She wept with pity and delight,
  She blush'd with love and maiden shame;
  And, like the murmur of a dream,
    I heard her breathe my name.

  Her Bosom heav'd—she stepp'd aside;
  As conscious of my Look, she stepp'd—
  Then suddenly with timorous eye
    She fled to me and wept.

  She half inclosed me with her arms,
  She press'd me with a meek embrace;
  And bending back her head look'd up,
    And gaz'd upon my face.

  'Twas partly Love, and partly Fear,
  And partly 'twas a bashful Art
  That I might rather feel than see
    The Swelling of her Heart.

  I calm'd her Tears; and she was calm,
  And told her love with virgin Pride.
  And so I won my Genevieve,
    My bright and beauteous Bride!

The MAD MOTHER.

  Her eyes are wild, her head is bare,
  The sun has burnt her coal-black hair,
  Her eye-brows have a rusty stain,
  And she came far from over the main.
  She has a baby on her arm,
  Or else she were alone;
  And underneath the hay-stack warm,
  And on the green-wood stone,
  She talked and sung the woods among;
  And it was in the English tongue.

  "Sweet babe! they say that I am mad,
  But nay, my heart is far too glad;
  And I am happy when I sing
  Full many a sad and doleful thing:
  Then, lovely baby, do not fear!
  I pray thee have no fear of me,
  But, safe as in a cradle, here
  My lovely baby! thou shalt be,
  To thee I know too much I owe;
  I cannot work thee any woe.
"

  A fire was once within my brain;
  And in my head a dull, dull pain;
  And fiendish faces one, two, three,
  Hung at my breasts, and pulled at me.
  But then there came a sight of joy;
  It came at once to do me good;
  I waked, and saw my little boy,
  My little boy of flesh and blood;
  Oh joy for me that sight to see!
  For he was here, and only he.

  Suck, little babe, oh suck again!
  It cools my blood; it cools my brain;
  Thy lips I feel them, baby! they
  Draw from my heart the pain away.
  Oh! press me with thy little hand;
  It loosens something at my chest;
  About that tight and deadly band
  I feel thy little fingers press'd.
  The breeze I see is in the tree;
  It comes to cool my babe and me.

  Oh! love me, love me, little boy!
  Thou art thy mother's only joy;
  And do not dread the waves below,
  When o'er the sea-rock's edge we go;
  The high crag cannot work me harm,
  Nor leaping torrents when they howl;
  The babe I carry on my arm,
  He saves for me my precious soul;
  Then happy lie, for blest am I;
  Without me my sweet babe would die.

  Then do not fear, my boy! for thee
  Bold as a lion I will be;
  And I will always be thy guide,
  Through hollow snows and rivers wide.
  I'll build an Indian bower; I know
  The leaves that make the softest bed:
  And if from me thou wilt not go.
  But still be true 'till I am dead,
  My pretty thing! then thou shalt sing,
  As merry as the birds in spring.

  Thy father cares not for my breast,
  'Tis thine, sweet baby, there to rest:
  'Tis all thine own! and if its hue
  Be changed, that was so fair to view,
  'Tis fair enough for thee, my dove!
  My beauty, little child, is flown;
  But thou will live with me in love,
  And what if my poor cheek be brown?
  'Tis well for me, thou canst not see
  How pale and wan it else would be.

  Dread not their taunts, my little life!
  I am thy father's wedded wife;
  And underneath the spreading tree
  We two will live in honesty.
  If his sweet boy he could forsake,
  With me he never would have stay'd:
  From him no harm my babe can take,
  But he, poor man! is wretched made,
  And every day we two will pray
  For him that's gone and far away.

  I'll teach my boy the sweetest things;
  I'll teach him how the owlet sings.
  My little babe! thy lips are still,
  And thou hast almost suck'd thy fill.
  —Where art thou gone my own dear child?
  What wicked looks are those I see?
  Alas! alas! that look so wild,
  It never, never came from me:
  If thou art mad, my pretty lad,
  Then I must be for ever sad.

  Oh! smile on me, my little lamb!
  For I thy own dear mother am.
  My love for thee has well been tried:
  I've sought thy father far and wide.
  I know the poisons of the shade,
  I know the earth-nuts fit for food;
  Then, pretty dear, be not afraid;
  We'll find thy father in the wood.
  Now laugh and be gay, to the woods away!
  And there, my babe; we'll live for aye.


Angelou , Maya

 | 

The Lesson

I keep on dying again.
Veins collapse, opening like the Small fists of sleeping Children.
Memory of old tombs, Rotting flesh and worms do Not convince me against The challenge.
The years And cold defeat live deep in Lines along my face.
They dull my eyes, yet I keep on dying, Because I love to live.


Whitman , Walt

 | 

Song of the Open Road

 1
AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road, 
Healthy, free, the world before me, 
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune; Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, Strong and content, I travel the open road.
The earth—that is sufficient; I do not want the constellations any nearer; I know they are very well where they are; I know they suffice for those who belong to them.
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens; I carry them, men and women—I carry them with me wherever I go; I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them; I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.
) 2 You road I enter upon and look around! I believe you are not all that is here; I believe that much unseen is also here.
Here the profound lesson of reception, neither preference or denial; The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas’d, the illiterate person, are not denied; The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar’s tramp, the drunkard’s stagger, the laughing party of mechanics, The escaped youth, the rich person’s carriage, the fop, the eloping couple, The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture into the town, the return back from the town, They pass—I also pass—anything passes—none can be interdicted; None but are accepted—none but are dear to me.
3 You air that serves me with breath to speak! You objects that call from diffusion my meanings, and give them shape! You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers! You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides! I think you are latent with unseen existences—you are so dear to me.
You flagg’d walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges! You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships! You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d façades! you roofs! You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards! You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much! You doors and ascending steps! you arches! You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings! From all that has been near you, I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me; From the living and the dead I think you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.
4 The earth expanding right hand and left hand, The picture alive, every part in its best light, The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted, The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay fresh sentiment of the road.
O highway I travel! O public road! do you say to me, Do not leave me? Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you are lost? Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well-beaten and undenied—adhere to me? O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave you—yet I love you; You express me better than I can express myself; You shall be more to me than my poem.
I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all great poems also; I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles; (My judgments, thoughts, I henceforth try by the open air, the road;) I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me; I think whoever I see must be happy.
5 From this hour, freedom! From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines, Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute, Listening to others, and considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space; The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.
I am larger, better than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me; I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me, I would do the same to you.
I will recruit for myself and you as I go; I will scatter myself among men and women as I go; I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them; Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me; Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.
6 Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear, it would not amaze me; Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear’d, it would not astonish me.
Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons, It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.
Here a great personal deed has room; A great deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men, Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law, and mocks all authority and all argument against it.
Here is the test of wisdom; Wisdom is not finally tested in schools; Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it, to another not having it; Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof, Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is content, Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things; Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the Soul.
Now I reëxamine philosophies and religions, They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds, and along the landscape and flowing currents.
Here is realization; Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him; The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.
Only the kernel of every object nourishes; Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me? Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me? Here is adhesiveness—it is not previously fashion’d—it is apropos; Do you know what it is, as you pass, to be loved by strangers? Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls? 7 Here is the efflux of the Soul; The efflux of the Soul comes from within, through embower’d gates, ever provoking questions: These yearnings, why are they? These thoughts in the darkness, why are they? Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me, the sun-light expands my blood? Why, when they leave me, do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank? Why are there trees I never walk under, but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me? (I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees, and always drop fruit as I pass;) What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers? What with some driver, as I ride on the seat by his side? What with some fisherman, drawing his seine by the shore, as I walk by, and pause? What gives me to be free to a woman’s or man’s good-will? What gives them to be free to mine? 8 The efflux of the Soul is happiness—here is happiness; I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times; Now it flows unto us—we are rightly charged.
Here rises the fluid and attaching character; The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman; (The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day out of the roots of themselves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet continually out of itself.
) Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the love of young and old; From it falls distill’d the charm that mocks beauty and attainments; Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.
9 Allons! whoever you are, come travel with me! Traveling with me, you find what never tires.
The earth never tires; The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first—Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first; Be not discouraged—keep on—there are divine things, well envelop’d; I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
Allons! we must not stop here! However sweet these laid-up stores—however convenient this dwelling, we cannot remain here; However shelter’d this port, and however calm these waters, we must not anchor here; However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us, we are permitted to receive it but a little while.
10 Allons! the inducements shall be greater; We will sail pathless and wild seas; We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.
Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements! Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity; Allons! from all formules! From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic priests! The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the burial waits no longer.
Allons! yet take warning! He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance; None may come to the trial, till he or she bring courage and health.
Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself; Only those may come, who come in sweet and determin’d bodies; No diseas’d person—no rum-drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.
I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes; We convince by our presence.
11 Listen! I will be honest with you; I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes; These are the days that must happen to you: You shall not heap up what is call’d riches, You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve, You but arrive at the city to which you were destin’d—you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction, before you are call’d by an irresistible call to depart, You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you; What beckonings of love you receive, you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting, You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach’d hands toward you.
12 Allons! after the GREAT COMPANIONS! and to belong to them! They too are on the road! they are the swift and majestic men; they are the greatest women.
Over that which hinder’d them—over that which retarded—passing impediments large or small, Committers of crimes, committers of many beautiful virtues, Enjoyers of calms of seas, and storms of seas, Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of land, Habitués of many distant countries, habitués of far-distant dwellings, Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, solitary toilers, Pausers and contemplators of tufts, blossoms, shells of the shore, Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides, tender helpers of children, bearers of children, Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves, lowerers down of coffins, Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the years—the curious years, each emerging from that which preceded it, Journeyers as with companions, namely, their own diverse phases, Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days, Journeyers gayly with their own youth—Journeyers with their bearded and well-grain’d manhood, Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsurpass’d, content, Journeyers with their own sublime old age of manhood or womanhood, Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe, Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.
13 Allons! to that which is endless, as it was beginningless, To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights, To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to, Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys; To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it, To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it, To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you—however long, but it stretches and waits for you; To see no being, not God’s or any, but you also go thither, To see no possession but you may possess it—enjoying all without labor or purchase—abstracting the feast, yet not abstracting one particle of it; To take the best of the farmer’s farm and the rich man’s elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens, To take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass through, To carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever you go, To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them—to gather the love out of their hearts, To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind you, To know the universe itself as a road—as many roads—as roads for traveling souls.
14 The Soul travels; The body does not travel as much as the soul; The body has just as great a work as the soul, and parts away at last for the journeys of the soul.
All parts away for the progress of souls; All religion, all solid things, arts, governments,—all that was or is apparent upon this globe or any globe, falls into niches and corners before the procession of Souls along the grand roads of the universe.
Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads of the universe, all other progress is the needed emblem and sustenance.
Forever alive, forever forward, Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied, Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men, They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they go; But I know that they go toward the best—toward something great.
15 Allons! whoever you are! come forth! You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you.
Allons! out of the dark confinement! It is useless to protest—I know all, and expose it.
Behold, through you as bad as the rest, Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of people, Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those wash’d and trimm’d faces, Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.
No husband, no wife, no friend, trusted to hear the confession; Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and hiding it goes, Formless and wordless through the streets of the cities, polite and bland in the parlors, In the cars of rail-roads, in steamboats, in the public assembly, Home to the houses of men and women, at the table, in the bed-room, everywhere, Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright, death under the breast-bones, hell under the skull-bones, Under the broadcloth and gloves, under the ribbons and artificial flowers, Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a syllable of itself, Speaking of anything else, but never of itself.
16 Allons! through struggles and wars! The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.
Have the past struggles succeeded? What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? nature? Now understand me well—It is provided in the essence of things, that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.
My call is the call of battle—I nourish active rebellion; He going with me must go well arm’d; He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry enemies, desertions.
17 Allons! the road is before us! It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well.
Allons! be not detain’d! Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d! Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d! Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher! Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.
Mon enfant! I give you my hand! I give you my love, more precious than money, I give you myself, before preaching or law; Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?


Blake , William

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The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

 The Argument.
Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burdend air; Hungry clouds swag on the deep Once meek, and in a perilous path, The just man kept his course along The vale of death.
Roses are planted where thorns grow.
And on the barren heath Sing the honey bees.
Then the perilous path was planted: And a river, and a spring On every cliff and tomb; And on the bleached bones Red clay brought forth.
Till the villain left the paths of ease, To walk in perilous paths, and drive The just man into barren climes.
Now the sneaking serpent walks In mild humility.
And the just man rages in the wilds Where lions roam.
Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burdend air; Hungry clouds swag on the deep.
____________________________________________ PLATE 3 As a new heaven is begun, and it is now thirty-three years since its advent: the Eternal Hell revives.
And lo! Swedenborg is the Angel sitting at the tomb; his writings are the linen clothes folded up.
Now is the dominion of Edom, & the return of Adam into Paradise; see Isaiah XXXIV & XXXV Chap: Without Contraries is no progression.
Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.
From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil.
Good is the passive that obeys Reason[.
] Evil is the active springing from Energy.
Good is Heaven.
Evil is Hell.
PLATE 4 The voice of the Devil All Bibles or sacred codes.
have been the causes of the following Errors.
That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a Soul.
That Energy.
calld Evil.
is alone from the Body.
& that Reason.
calld Good.
is alone from the Soul.
That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.
But the following Contraries to these are True Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses.
the chief inlets of Soul in this age Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
Energy is Eternal Delight _______________________________________ PLATE 5 Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling.
And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire.
The history of this is written in Paradise Lost.
& the Governor or Reason is call'd Messiah.
And the original Archangel or possessor of the command of the heavenly host, is calld the Devil or Satan and his children are call'd Sin & Death But in the Book of Job Miltons Messiah is call'd Satan.
For this history has been adopted by both parties It indeed appear'd to Reason as if Desire was cast out.
but the Devils account is, that the Messi[PL 6]ah fell.
& formed a heaven of what he stole from the Abyss This is shewn in the Gospel, where he prays to the Father to send the comforter or Desire that Reason may have Ideas to build on, the Jehovah of the Bible being no other than he, who dwells in flaming fire.
Know that after Christs death, he became Jehovah.
But in Milton; the Father is Destiny, the Son, a Ratio of the five senses.
& the Holy-ghost, Vacuum! Note.
The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devils party without knowing it A Memorable Fancy.
As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity.
I collected some of their Proverbs: thinking that as the sayings used in a nation, mark its character, so the Proverbs of Hell, shew the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any description of buildings or garments.
When I came home; on the abyss of the five senses, where a flat sided steep frowns over the present world.
I saw a mighty Devil folded in black clouds, hovering on the sides of the rock, with cor[PL 7]roding fires he wrote the following sentence now percieved by the minds of men, & read by them on earth.
How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five? Proverbs of Hell.
In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.
The cut worm forgives the plow.
Dip him in the river who loves water.
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
The hours of folly are measur'd by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure.
All wholsom food is caught without a net or a trap.
Bring out number weight & measure in a year of dearth.
No bird soars too high.
if he soars with his own wings.
A dead body.
revenges not injuries.
The most sublime act is to set another before you.
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise Folly is the cloke of knavery.
Shame is Prides cloke.
PLATE 8 Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
The nakedness of woman is the work of God.
Excess of sorrow laughs.
Excess of joy weeps.
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword.
are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.
The fox condemns the trap, not himself.
Joys impregnate.
Sorrows bring forth.
Let man wear the fell of the lion.
woman the fleece of the sheep.
The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
The selfish smiling fool.
& the sullen frowning fool.
shall be both thought wise.
that they may be a rod.
What is now proved was once, only imagin'd.
The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbet; watch the roots, the lion, the tyger, the horse, the elephant, watch the fruits.
The cistern contains: the fountain overflows One thought.
fills immensity.
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.
Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth.
The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.
PLATE 9 The fox provides for himself.
but God provides for the lion.
Think in the morning, Act in the noon, Eat in the evening, Sleep in the night.
He who has sufferd you to impose on him knows you.
As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers.
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction Expect poison from the standing water.
You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.
Listen to the fools reproach! it is a kingly title! The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the beard of earth.
The weak in courage is strong in cunning.
The apple tree never asks the beech how he shall grow, nor the lion.
the horse; how he shall take his prey.
The thankful reciever bears a plentiful harvest.
If others bad not been foolish.
we should be so.
The soul of sweet delight.
can never be defil'd, When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius.
lift up thy head! As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.
To create a little flower is the labour of ages.
Damn.
braces: Bless relaxes.
The best wine is the oldest.
the best water the newest.
Prayers plow not! Praises reap not! Joys laugh not! Sorrows weep not! PLATE 10 The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands & feet Proportion.
As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible.
The crow wish'd every thing was black, the owl, that every thing was white.
Exuberance is Beauty.
If the lion was advised by the fox.
he would be cunning.
Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires Where man is not nature is barren.
Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ'd.
Enough! or Too much PLATE 11 The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve.
And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country.
placing it under its mental deity.
Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood.
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounced that the Gods had orderd such things.
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.
PLATE 12 A Memorable Fancy.
The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel dined with me, and I asked them how they dared so roundly to assert.
that God spake to them; and whether they did not think at the time, that they would be misunderstood, & so be the cause of imposition.
Isaiah answer'd.
I saw no God.
nor heard any, in a finite organical perception; but my senses discover'd the infinite in every thing, and as I was then perswaded.
& remain confirm'd; that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, I cared not for consequences but wrote.
Then I asked: does a firm perswasion that a thing is so, make it so? He replied.
All poets believe that it does, & in ages of imagination this firm perswasion removed mountains; but many are not capable of a firm perswasion of any thing.
Then Ezekiel said.
The philosophy of the east taught the first principles of human perception some nations held one principle for the origin & some another, we of Israel taught that the Poetic Genius (as you now call it) was the first principle and all the others merely derivative, which was the cause of our despising the Priests & Philosophers of other countries, and prophecying that all Gods [PL 13] would at last be proved.
to originate in ours & to be the tributaries of the Poetic Genius, it was this.
that our great poet King David desired so fervently & invokes so patheticly, saying by this he conquers enemies & governs kingdoms; and we so loved our God.
that we cursed in his name all the deities of surrounding nations, and asserted that they had rebelled; from these opinions the vulgar came to think that all nations would at last be subject to the jews.
This said he, like all firm perswasions, is come to pass, for all nations believe the jews code and worship the jews god, and what greater subjection can be.
I heard this with some wonder, & must confess my own conviction.
After dinner I ask'd Isaiah to favour the world with his lost works, he said none of equal value was lost.
Ezekiel said the same of his.
I also asked Isaiah what made him go naked and barefoot three years? he answerd, the same that made our friend Diogenes the Grecian.
I then asked Ezekiel.
why he eat dung, & lay so long on his right & left side? he answerd.
the desire of raising other men into a perception of the infinite this the North American tribes practise.
& is he honest who resists his genius or conscience.
only for the sake of present ease or gratification? _______________________________________________ PLATE 14 The ancient tradition that the world will be consumed in fire at the end of six thousand years is true.
as I have heard from Hell.
For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed, and appear infinite.
and holy whereas it now appears finite & corrupt.
This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.
But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his soul, is to be expunged; this I shall do, by printing in the infernal method, by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the infinite which was hid.
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.
PLATE 15 A Memorable Fancy I was in a Printing house in Hell & saw the method in which knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.
In the first chamber was a Dragon-Man, clearing away the rubbish from a caves mouth; within, a number of Dragons were hollowing the cave, In the second chamber was a Viper folding round the rock & the cave, and others adorning it with gold silver and precious stones.
In the third chamber was an Eagle with wings and feathers of air, he caused the inside of the cave to be infinite, around were numbers of Eagle like men, who built palaces in the immense cliffs.
In the fourth chamber were Lions of flaming fire raging around & melting the metals into living fluids.
In the fifth chamber were Unnam'd forms, which cast the metals into the expanse.
There they were reciev'd by Men who occupied the sixth chamber, and took the forms of books & were arranged in libraries.
____________________________________________________ PLATE 16 The Giants who formed this world into its sensual existence and now seem to live in it in chains; are in truth.
the causes of its life & the sources of all activity, but the chains are, the cunning of weak and tame minds.
which have power to resist energy.
according to the proverb, the weak in courage is strong in cunning.
Thus one portion of being, is the Prolific.
the other, the Devouring: to the devourer it seems as if the producer was in his chains, but it is not so, he only takes portions of existence and fancies that the whole.
But the Prolific would cease to be Prolific unless the Devourer as a sea recieved the excess of his delights.
Some will say, Is not God alone the Prolific? I answer, God only Acts & Is, in existing beings or Men.
These two classes of men are always upon earth, & they should be enemies; whoever tries [PL 17] to reconcile them seeks to destroy existence.
Religion is an endeavour to reconcile the two.
Note.
Jesus Christ did not wish to unite but to seperate them, as in the Parable of sheep and goats! & he says I came not to send Peace but a Sword.
Messiah or Satan or Tempter was formerly thought to be one of the Antediluvians who are our Energies.
A Memorable Fancy An Angel came to me and said.
O pitiable foolish young man! O horrible! O dreadful state! consider the hot burning dungeon thou art preparing for thyself to all eternity, to which thou art going in such career.
I said.
perhaps you will be willing to shew me my eternal lot & we will contemplate together upon it and see whether your lot or mine is most desirable So he took me thro' a stable & thro' a church & down into the church vault at the end of which was a mill: thro' the mill we went, and came to a cave.
down the winding cavern we groped our tedious way till a void boundless as a nether sky appeard beneath us & we held by the roots of trees and hung over this immensity; but I said, if you please we will commit ourselves to this void, and see whether providence is here also, if you will not I will? but he answerd.
do not presume O young-man but as we here remain behold thy lot which will soon appear when the darkness passes away So I remaind with him sitting in the twisted [PL 18] root of an oak.
he was suspended in a fungus which hung with the head downward into the deep: By degrees we beheld the infinite Abyss, fiery as the smoke of a burning city; beneath us at an immense distance was the sun, black but shining[;] round it were fiery tracks on which revolv'd vast spiders, crawling after their prey; which flew or rather swum in the infinite deep, in the most terrific shapes of animals sprung from corruption.
& the air was full of them, & seemd composed of them; these are Devils.
and are called Powers of the air, I now asked my companion which was my eternal lot? he said, between the black & white spiders But now, from between the black & white spiders a cloud and fire burst and rolled thro the deep blackning all beneath, so that the nether deep grew black as a sea & rolled with a terrible noise: beneath us was nothing now to be seen but a black tempest, till looking east between the clouds & the waves, we saw a cataract of blood mixed with fire and not many stones throw from us appeard and sunk again the scaly fold of a monstrous serpent.
at last to the east, distant about three degrees appeard a fiery crest above the waves slowly it reared like a ridge of golden rocks till we discoverd two globes of crimson fire.
from which the sea fled away in clouds of smoke, and now we saw, it was the head of Leviathan.
his forehead was divided into streaks of green & purple like those on a tygers forehead: soon we saw his mouth & red gills hang just above the raging foam tinging the black deep with beams of blood, advancing toward [PL 19] us with all the fury of a spiritual existence.
My friend the Angel climb'd up from his station into the mill; I remain'd alone, & then this appearance was no more, but I found myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moon light hearing a harper who sung to the harp.
& his theme was, The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind.
But I arose, and sought for the mill, & there I found my Angel, who surprised asked me, how I escaped? I answerd.
All that we saw was owing to your metaphysics: for when you ran away, I found myself on a bank by moonlight hearing a harper, But now we have seen my eternal lot, shall I shew you yours? he laughd at my proposal: but I by force suddenly caught him in my arms, & flew westerly thro' the night, till we were elevated above the earths shadow: then I flung myself with him directly into the body of the sun, here I clothed myself in white, & taking in my hand Swedenborgs volumes sunk from the glorious clime, and passed all the planets till we came to saturn, here I staid to rest & then leap'd into the void, between saturn & the fixed stars.
Here said I! is your lot, in this space, if space it may be calld, Soon we saw the stable and the church, & I took him to the altar and open'd the Bible, and lo! it was a deep pit, into which I descended driving the Angel before me, soon we saw seven houses of brick, one we enterd; in it were a [PL 20] number of monkeys, baboons, & all of that species chaind by the middle, grinning and snatching at one another, but witheld by the shortness of their chains: however I saw that they sometimes grew numerous, and then the weak were caught by the strong and with a grinning aspect, first coupled with & then devourd, by plucking off first one limb and then another till the body was left a helpless trunk.
this after grinning & kissing it with seeming fondness they devourd too; and here & there I saw one savourily picking the flesh off of his own tail; as the stench terribly annoyd us both we went into the mill, & I in my hand brought the skeleton of a body, which in the mill was Aristotles Analytics.
So the Angel said: thy phantasy has imposed upon me & thou oughtest to be ashamed.
I answerd: we impose on one another, & it is but lost time to converse with you whose works are only Analytics.
Opposition is true Friendship.
PLATE 21 I have always found that Angels have the vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise; this they do with a confident insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning: Thus Swedenborg boasts that what he writes is new; tho' it is only the Contents or Index of already publish'd books A man carried a monkey about for a shew, & because he was a little wiser than the monkey, grew vain, and conciev'd himself as much wiser than seven men.
It is so with Swedenborg; he shews the folly of churches & exposes hypocrites, till he imagines that all are religious.
& himself the single [PL 22] One on earth that ever broke a net.
Now hear a plain fact: Swedenborg has not written one new truth: Now hear another: he has written all the old falshoods.
And now hear the reason.
He conversed with Angels who are all religious, & conversed not with Devils who all hate religion, for he was incapable thro' his conceited notions.
Thus Swedenborgs writings are a recapitulation of all superficial opinions, and an analysis of the more sublime, but no further.
Have now another plain fact: Any man of mechanical talents may from the writings of Paracelsus or Jacob Behmen, produce ten thousand volumes of equal value with Swedenborg's.
and from those of Dante or Shakespear, an infinite number.
But when he has done this, let him not say that he knows better than his master, for he only holds a candle in sunshine.
A Memorable Fancy Once I saw a Devil in a flame of fire.
who arose before an Angel that sat on a cloud.
and the Devil utterd these words.
The worship of God is.
Honouring his gifts in other men each according to his genius.
and loving the [PL 23] greatest men best, those who envy or calumniate great men hate God, for there is no other God.
The Angel hearing this became almost blue but mastering himself he grew yellow, & at last white pink & smiling, and then replied, Thou Idolater, is not God One? & is not he visible in Jesus Christ? and has not Jesus Christ given his sanction to the law of ten commandments and are not all other men fools, sinners, & nothings? The Devil answer'd; bray a fool in a morter with wheat.
yet shall not his folly be beaten out of him: if Jesus Christ is the greatest man, you ought to love him in the greatest degree; now hear how he has given his sanction to the law of ten commandments: did he not mock at the sabbath, and so mock the sabbaths God? murder those who were murderd because of him? turn away the law from the woman taken in adultery? steal the labor of others to support him? bear false witness when he omitted making a defence before Pilate? covet when he pray'd for his disciples, and when he bid them shake off the dust of their feet against such as refused to lodge them? I tell you, no virtue can exis without breaking these ten commandments: Jesus was all virtue and acted from im[PL 24]pulse: not from rules.
When he had so spoken: I beheld the Angel who stretched out his arms embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose as Elijah.
Note.
This Angel, who is now become a Devil, is my particular friend: we often read the Bible together in its infernal or diabolical sense which the world shall have if they behave well I have also: The Bible of Hell: which the world shall have whether they will or no.
One Law for the Lion & Ox is Oppression PLATE 25 A Song of Liberty The Eternal Female groand! it was heard over all the Earth: Albions coast is sick silent; the American meadows faint! Shadows of Prophecy shiver along by the lakes and the rivers and mutter across the ocean! France rend down thy dungeon; Golden Spain burst the barriers of old Rome; Cast thy keys O Rome into the deep down falling, even to eternity down falling, And weep! In her trembling hands she took the new, born terror howling; On those infinite mountains of light now barr'd out by the atlantic sea, the new born fire stood before the starry king! Flag'd with grey brow'd snows and thunderous visages the jealous wings wav'd over the deep.
The speary hand burned aloft, unbuckled was the shield, forth went the hand of jealousy among the flaming hair, and [PL 26]hurl'd the new born wonder thro' the starry night.
The fire, the fire, is falling! Look up! look up! O citizen of London.
enlarge thy countenance; O Jew, leave counting gold! return to thy oil and wine; O African! black African! (go.
winged thought widen his forehead.
) The fiery limbs, the flaming hair, shot like the sinking sun into the western sea.
Wak'd from his eternal sleep, the hoary, element roaring fled away: Down rushd beating his wings in vain the jealous king: his grey brow'd councellors, thunderous warriors, curl'd veterans, among helms, and shields, and chariots horses, elephants: banners, castles, slings and rocks, Falling, rushing, ruining! buried in the ruins, on Urthona's dens.
All night beneath the ruins, then their sullen flames faded emerge round the gloomy king, With thunder and fire: leading his starry hosts thro' the waste wilderness [PL 27]he promulgates his ten commands, glancing his beamy eyelids over the deep in dark dismay, Where the son of fire in his eastern cloud, while the morning plumes her golden breast, Spurning the clouds written with curses, stamps the stony law to dust, loosing the eternal horses from the dens of night, crying Empire is no more! and now the lion & wolf shall cease.
Chorus Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy.
Nor his accepted brethren whom, tyrant, he calls free; lay the bound or build the roof.
Nor pale religious letchery call that virginity, that wishes but acts not! For every thing that lives is Holy


Byron , George (Lord)

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The Dream

 I

Our life is twofold; Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off waking toils,
They do divide our being; they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,
And look like heralds of eternity;
They pass like spirits of the past—they speak
Like sibyls of the future; they have power— 
The tyranny of pleasure and of pain;
They make us what we were not—what they will,
And shake us with the vision that's gone by,
The dread of vanished shadows—Are they so?
Is not the past all shadow?—What are they?
Creations of the mind?—The mind can make
Substances, and people planets of its own
With beings brighter than have been, and give
A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.
I would recall a vision which I dreamed Perchance in sleep—for in itself a thought, A slumbering thought, is capable of years, And curdles a long life into one hour.
II I saw two beings in the hues of youth Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill, Green and of mild declivity, the last As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such, Save that there was no sea to lave its base, But a most living landscape, and the wave Of woods and corn-fields, and the abodes of men Scattered at intervals, and wreathing smoke Arising from such rustic roofs: the hill Was crowned with a peculiar diadem Of trees, in circular array, so fixed, Not by the sport of nature, but of man: These two, a maiden and a youth, were there Gazing—the one on all that was beneath Fair as herself—but the boy gazed on her; And both were young, and one was beautiful: And both were young—yet not alike in youth.
As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge, The maid was on the eve of womanhood; The boy had fewer summers, but his heart Had far outgrown his years, and to his eye There was but one beloved face on earth, And that was shining on him; he had looked Upon it till it could not pass away; He had no breath, no being, but in hers: She was his voice; he did not speak to her, But trembled on her words; she was his sight, For his eye followed hers, and saw with hers, Which coloured all his objects;—he had ceased To live within himself: she was his life, The ocean to the river of his thoughts, Which terminated all; upon a tone, A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow, And his cheek change tempestuously—his heart Unknowing of its cause of agony.
But she in these fond feelings had no share: Her sighs were not for him; to her he was Even as a brother—but no more; 'twas much, For brotherless she was, save in the name Her infant friendship had bestowed on him; Herself the solitary scion left Of a time-honoured race.
—It was a name Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not—and why? Time taught him a deep answer—when she loved Another; even now she loved another, And on the summit of that hill she stood Looking afar if yet her lover's steed Kept pace with her expectancy, and flew.
III A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
There was an ancient mansion, and before Its walls there was a steed caparisoned: Within an antique Oratory stood The Boy of whom I spake;—he was alone, And pale, and pacing to and fro: anon He sate him down, and seized a pen, and traced Words which I could not guess of; then he leaned His bowed head on his hands and shook, as 'twere With a convulsion—then rose again, And with his teeth and quivering hands did tear What he had written, but he shed no tears.
And he did calm himself, and fix his brow Into a kind of quiet: as he paused, The Lady of his love re-entered there; She was serene and smiling then, and yet She knew she was by him beloved; she knew— For quickly comes such knowledge—that his heart Was darkened with her shadow, and she saw That he was wretched, but she saw not all.
He rose, and with a cold and gentle grasp He took her hand; a moment o'er his face A tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced, and then it faded, as it came; He dropped the hand he held, and with slow steps Retired, but not as bidding her adieu, For they did part with mutual smiles; he passed From out the massy gate of that old Hall, And mounting on his steed he went his way; And ne'er repassed that hoary threshold more.
IV A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds Of fiery climes he made himself a home, And his Soul drank their sunbeams; he was girt With strange and dusky aspects; he was not Himself like what he had been; on the sea And on the shore he was a wanderer; There was a mass of many images Crowded like waves upon me, but he was A part of all; and in the last he lay Reposing from the noontide sultriness, Couched among fallen columns, in the shade Of ruined walls that had survived the names Of those who reared them; by his sleeping side Stood camels grazing, and some goodly steeds Were fastened near a fountain; and a man, Glad in a flowing garb, did watch the while, While many of his tribe slumbered around: And they were canopied by the blue sky, So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful, That God alone was to be seen in heaven.
V A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love was wed with One Who did not love her better: in her home, A thousand leagues from his,—her native home, She dwelt, begirt with growing Infancy, Daughters and sons of Beauty,—but behold! Upon her face there was a tint of grief, The settled shadow of an inward strife, And an unquiet drooping of the eye, As if its lid were charged with unshed tears.
What could her grief be?—she had all she loved, And he who had so loved her was not there To trouble with bad hopes, or evil wish, Or ill-repressed affliction, her pure thoughts.
What could her grief be?—she had loved him not, Nor given him cause to deem himself beloved, Nor could he be a part of that which preyed Upon her mind—a spectre of the past.
VI A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was returned.
—I saw him stand Before an altar—with a gentle bride; Her face was fair, but was not that which made The Starlight of his Boyhood;—as he stood Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came The selfsame aspect and the quivering shock That in the antique Oratory shook His bosom in its solitude; and then— As in that hour—a moment o'er his face The tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced—and then it faded as it came, And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke The fitting vows, but heard not his own words, And all things reeled around him; he could see Not that which was, nor that which should have been— But the old mansion, and the accustomed hall, And the remembered chambers, and the place, The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shade, All things pertaining to that place and hour, And her who was his destiny, came back And thrust themselves between him and the light; What business had they there at such a time? VII A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love;—Oh! she was changed, As by the sickness of the soul; her mind Had wandered from its dwelling, and her eyes, They had not their own lustre, but the look Which is not of the earth; she was become The queen of a fantastic realm; her thoughts Were combinations of disjointed things; And forms impalpable and unperceived Of others' sight familiar were to hers.
And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise Have a far deeper madness, and the glance Of melancholy is a fearful gift; What is it but the telescope of truth? Which strips the distance of its fantasies, And brings life near in utter nakedness, Making the cold reality too real! VIII A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was alone as heretofore, The beings which surrounded him were gone, Or were at war with him; he was a mark For blight and desolation, compassed round With Hatred and Contention; Pain was mixed In all which was served up to him, until, Like to the Pontic monarch of old days, He fed on poisons, and they had no power, But were a kind of nutriment; he lived Through that which had been death to many men, And made him friends of mountains; with the stars And the quick Spirit of the Universe He held his dialogues: and they did teach To him the magic of their mysteries; To him the book of Night was opened wide, And voices from the deep abyss revealed A marvel and a secret.
—Be it so.
IX My dream is past; it had no further change.
It was of a strange order, that the doom Of these two creatures should be thus traced out Almost like a reality—the one To end in madness—both in misery.


Shelley , Percy Bysshe

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The Triumph of Life

 Swift as a spirit hastening to his task 
Of glory & of good, the Sun sprang forth
Rejoicing in his splendour, & the mask
Of darkness fell from the awakened Earth.
The smokeless altars of the mountain snows Flamed above crimson clouds, & at the birth Of light, the Ocean's orison arose To which the birds tempered their matin lay, All flowers in field or forest which unclose Their trembling eyelids to the kiss of day, Swinging their censers in the element, With orient incense lit by the new ray Burned slow & inconsumably, & sent Their odorous sighs up to the smiling air, And in succession due, did Continent, Isle, Ocean, & all things that in them wear The form & character of mortal mould Rise as the Sun their father rose, to bear Their portion of the toil which he of old Took as his own & then imposed on them; But I, whom thoughts which must remain untold Had kept as wakeful as the stars that gem The cone of night, now they were laid asleep, Stretched my faint limbs beneath the hoary stem Which an old chestnut flung athwart the steep Of a green Apennine: before me fled The night; behind me rose the day; the Deep Was at my feet, & Heaven above my head When a strange trance over my fancy grew Which was not slumber, for the shade it spread Was so transparent that the scene came through As clear as when a veil of light is drawn O'er evening hills they glimmer; and I knew That I had felt the freshness of that dawn, Bathed in the same cold dew my brow & hair And sate as thus upon that slope of lawn Under the self same bough, & heard as there The birds, the fountains & the Ocean hold Sweet talk in music through the enamoured air.
And then a Vision on my brain was rolled.
As in that trance of wondrous thought I lay This was the tenour of my waking dream.
Methought I sate beside a public way Thick strewn with summer dust, & a great stream Of people there was hurrying to & fro Numerous as gnats upon the evening gleam, All hastening onward, yet none seemed to know Whither he went, or whence he came, or why He made one of the multitude, yet so Was borne amid the crowd as through the sky One of the million leaves of summer's bier.
-- Old age & youth, manhood & infancy, Mixed in one mighty torrent did appear, Some flying from the thing they feared & some Seeking the object of another's fear, And others as with steps towards the tomb Pored on the trodden worms that crawled beneath, And others mournfully within the gloom Of their own shadow walked, and called it death .
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And some fled from it as it were a ghost, Half fainting in the affliction of vain breath.
But more with motions which each other crost Pursued or shunned the shadows the clouds threw Or birds within the noonday ether lost, Upon that path where flowers never grew; And weary with vain toil & faint for thirst Heard not the fountains whose melodious dew Out of their mossy cells forever burst Nor felt the breeze which from the forest told Of grassy paths, & wood lawns interspersed With overarching elms & caverns cold, And violet banks where sweet dreams brood, but they Pursued their serious folly as of old .
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And as I gazed methought that in the way The throng grew wilder, as the woods of June When the South wind shakes the extinguished day.
-- And a cold glare, intenser than the noon But icy cold, obscured with [[blank]] light The Sun as he the stars.
Like the young moon When on the sunlit limits of the night Her white shell trembles amid crimson air And whilst the sleeping tempest gathers might Doth, as a herald of its coming, bear The ghost of her dead Mother, whose dim form Bends in dark ether from her infant's chair, So came a chariot on the silent storm Of its own rushing splendour, and a Shape So sate within as one whom years deform Beneath a dusky hood & double cape Crouching within the shadow of a tomb, And o'er what seemed the head, a cloud like crape, Was bent a dun & faint etherial gloom Tempering the light; upon the chariot's beam A Janus-visaged Shadow did assume The guidance of that wonder-winged team.
The Shapes which drew it in thick lightnings Were lost: I heard alone on the air's soft stream The music of their ever moving wings.
All the four faces of that charioteer Had their eyes banded .
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little profit brings Speed in the van & blindness in the rear, Nor then avail the beams that quench the Sun Or that his banded eyes could pierce the sphere Of all that is, has been, or will be done.
-- So ill was the car guided, but it past With solemn speed majestically on .
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The crowd gave way, & I arose aghast, Or seemed to rise, so mighty was the trance, And saw like clouds upon the thunder blast The million with fierce song and maniac dance Raging around; such seemed the jubilee As when to greet some conqueror's advance Imperial Rome poured forth her living sea From senatehouse & prison & theatre When Freedom left those who upon the free Had bound a yoke which soon they stooped to bear.
Nor wanted here the true similitude Of a triumphal pageant, for where'er The chariot rolled a captive multitude Was driven; althose who had grown old in power Or misery,--all who have their age subdued, By action or by suffering, and whose hour Was drained to its last sand in weal or woe, So that the trunk survived both fruit & flower; All those whose fame or infamy must grow Till the great winter lay the form & name Of their own earth with them forever low, All but the sacred few who could not tame Their spirits to the Conqueror, but as soon As they had touched the world with living flame Fled back like eagles to their native noon, Of those who put aside the diadem Of earthly thrones or gems, till the last one Were there;--for they of Athens & Jerusalem Were neither mid the mighty captives seen Nor mid the ribald crowd that followed them Or fled before .
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Now swift, fierce & obscene The wild dance maddens in the van, & those Who lead it, fleet as shadows on the green, Outspeed the chariot & without repose Mix with each other in tempestuous measure To savage music .
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Wilder as it grows, They, tortured by the agonizing pleasure, Convulsed & on the rapid whirlwinds spun Of that fierce spirit, whose unholy leisure Was soothed by mischief since the world begun, Throw back their heads & loose their streaming hair, And in their dance round her who dims the Sun Maidens & youths fling their wild arms in air As their feet twinkle; they recede, and now Bending within each other's atmosphere Kindle invisibly; and as they glow Like moths by light attracted & repelled, Oft to new bright destruction come & go.
Till like two clouds into one vale impelled That shake the mountains when their lightnings mingle And die in rain,--the fiery band which held Their natures, snaps .
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ere the shock cease to tingle One falls and then another in the path Senseless, nor is the desolation single, Yet ere I can say where the chariot hath Past over them; nor other trace I find But as of foam after the Ocean's wrath Is spent upon the desert shore.
--Behind, Old men, and women foully disarrayed Shake their grey hair in the insulting wind, Limp in the dance & strain, with limbs decayed, Seeking to reach the light which leaves them still Farther behind & deeper in the shade.
But not the less with impotence of will They wheel, though ghastly shadows interpose Round them & round each other, and fulfill Their work and to the dust whence they arose Sink & corruption veils them as they lie And frost in these performs what fire in those.
Struck to the heart by this sad pageantry, Half to myself I said, "And what is this? Whose shape is that within the car? & why"- I would have added--"is all here amiss?" But a voice answered .
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"Life" .
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I turned & knew (O Heaven have mercy on such wretchedness!) That what I thought was an old root which grew To strange distortion out of the hill side Was indeed one of that deluded crew, And that the grass which methought hung so wide And white, was but his thin discoloured hair, And that the holes it vainly sought to hide Were or had been eyes.
--"lf thou canst forbear To join the dance, which I had well forborne," Said the grim Feature, of my thought aware, "I will now tell that which to this deep scorn Led me & my companions, and relate The progress of the pageant since the morn; "If thirst of knowledge doth not thus abate, Follow it even to the night, but I Am weary" .
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Then like one who with the weight Of his own words is staggered, wearily He paused, and ere he could resume, I cried, "First who art thou?" .
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"Before thy memory "I feared, loved, hated, suffered, did, & died, And if the spark with which Heaven lit my spirit Earth had with purer nutriment supplied "Corruption would not now thus much inherit Of what was once Rousseau--nor this disguise Stained that within which still disdains to wear it.
-- "If I have been extinguished, yet there rise A thousand beacons from the spark I bore.
"-- "And who are those chained to the car?" "The Wise, "The great, the unforgotten: they who wore Mitres & helms & crowns, or wreathes of light, Signs of thought's empire over thought; their lore "Taught them not this--to know themselves; their might Could not repress the mutiny within, And for the morn of truth they feigned, deep night "Caught them ere evening.
" "Who is he with chin Upon his breast and hands crost on his chain?" "The Child of a fierce hour; he sought to win "The world, and lost all it did contain Of greatness, in its hope destroyed; & more Of fame & peace than Virtue's self can gain "Without the opportunity which bore Him on its eagle's pinion to the peak From which a thousand climbers have before "Fall'n as Napoleon fell.
"--I felt my cheek Alter to see the great form pass away Whose grasp had left the giant world so weak That every pigmy kicked it as it lay-- And much I grieved to think how power & will In opposition rule our mortal day-- And why God made irreconcilable Good & the means of good; and for despair I half disdained mine eye's desire to fill With the spent vision of the times that were And scarce have ceased to be .
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"Dost thou behold," Said then my guide, "those spoilers spoiled, Voltaire, "Frederic, & Kant, Catherine, & Leopold, Chained hoary anarch, demagogue & sage Whose name the fresh world thinks already old-- "For in the battle Life & they did wage She remained conqueror--I was overcome By my own heart alone, which neither age "Nor tears nor infamy nor now the tomb Could temper to its object.
"--"Let them pass"-- I cried--"the world & its mysterious doom "Is not so much more glorious than it was That I desire to worship those who drew New figures on its false & fragile glass "As the old faded.
"--"Figures ever new Rise on the bubble, paint them how you may; We have but thrown, as those before us threw, "Our shadows on it as it past away.
But mark, how chained to the triumphal chair The mighty phantoms of an elder day-- "All that is mortal of great Plato there Expiates the joy & woe his master knew not; That star that ruled his doom was far too fair-- "And Life, where long that flower of Heaven grew not, Conquered the heart by love which gold or pain Or age or sloth or slavery could subdue not-- "And near [[blank]] walk the [[blank]] twain, The tutor & his pupil, whom Dominion Followed as tame as vulture in a chain.
-- "The world was darkened beneath either pinion Of him whom from the flock of conquerors Fame singled as her thunderbearing minion; "The other long outlived both woes & wars, Throned in new thoughts of men, and still had kept The jealous keys of truth's eternal doors "If Bacon's spirit [[blank]] had not leapt Like lightning out of darkness; he compelled The Proteus shape of Nature's as it slept "To wake & to unbar the caves that held The treasure of the secrets of its reign-- See the great bards of old who inly quelled "The passions which they sung, as by their strain May well be known: their living melody Tempers its own contagion to the vein "Of those who are infected with it--I Have suffered what I wrote, or viler pain!-- "And so my words were seeds of misery-- Even as the deeds of others.
"--"Not as theirs," I said--he pointed to a company In which I recognized amid the heirs Of Caesar's crime from him to Constantine, The Anarchs old whose force & murderous snares Had founded many a sceptre bearing line And spread the plague of blood & gold abroad, And Gregory & John and men divine Who rose like shadows between Man & god Till that eclipse, still hanging under Heaven, Was worshipped by the world o'er which they strode For the true Sun it quenched.
--"Their power was given But to destroy," replied the leader--"I Am one of those who have created, even "If it be but a world of agony.
"-- "Whence camest thou & whither goest thou? How did thy course begin," I said, "& why? "Mine eyes are sick of this perpetual flow Of people, & my heart of one sad thought.
-- Speak.
"--"Whence I came, partly I seem to know, "And how & by what paths I have been brought To this dread pass, methinks even thou mayst guess; Why this should be my mind can compass not; "Whither the conqueror hurries me still less.
But follow thou, & from spectator turn Actor or victim in this wretchedness, "And what thou wouldst be taught I then may learn From thee.
--Now listen .
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In the April prime When all the forest tops began to burn "With kindling green, touched by the azure clime Of the young year, I found myself asleep Under a mountain which from unknown time "Had yawned into a cavern high & deep, And from it came a gentle rivulet Whose water like clear air in its calm sweep "Bent the soft grass & kept for ever wet The stems of the sweet flowers, and filled the grove With sound which all who hear must needs forget "All pleasure & all pain, all hate & love, Which they had known before that hour of rest: A sleeping mother then would dream not of "The only child who died upon her breast At eventide, a king would mourn no more The crown of which his brow was dispossest "When the sun lingered o'er the Ocean floor To gild his rival's new prosperity.
-- Thou wouldst forget thus vainly to deplore "Ills, which if ills, can find no cure from thee, The thought of which no other sleep will quell Nor other music blot from memory-- "So sweet & deep is the oblivious spell.
-- Whether my life had been before that sleep The Heaven which I imagine, or a Hell "Like this harsh world in which I wake to weep, I know not.
I arose & for a space The scene of woods & waters seemed to keep, "Though it was now broad day, a gentle trace Of light diviner than the common Sun Sheds on the common Earth, but all the place "Was filled with many sounds woven into one Oblivious melody, confusing sense Amid the gliding waves & shadows dun; "And as I looked the bright omnipresence Of morning through the orient cavern flowed, And the Sun's image radiantly intense "Burned on the waters of the well that glowed Like gold, and threaded all the forest maze With winding paths of emerald fire--there stood "Amid the sun, as he amid the blaze Of his own glory, on the vibrating Floor of the fountain, paved with flashing rays, "A shape all light, which with one hand did fling Dew on the earth, as if she were the Dawn Whose invisible rain forever seemed to sing "A silver music on the mossy lawn, And still before her on the dusky grass Iris her many coloured scarf had drawn.
-- "In her right hand she bore a crystal glass Mantling with bright Nepenthe;--the fierce splendour Fell from her as she moved under the mass "Of the deep cavern, & with palms so tender Their tread broke not the mirror of its billow, Glided along the river, and did bend her "Head under the dark boughs, till like a willow Her fair hair swept the bosom of the stream That whispered with delight to be their pillow.
-- "As one enamoured is upborne in dream O'er lily-paven lakes mid silver mist To wondrous music, so this shape might seem "Partly to tread the waves with feet which kist The dancing foam, partly to glide along The airs that roughened the moist amethyst, "Or the slant morning beams that fell among The trees, or the soft shadows of the trees; And her feet ever to the ceaseless song "Of leaves & winds & waves & birds & bees And falling drops moved in a measure new Yet sweet, as on the summer evening breeze "Up from the lake a shape of golden dew Between two rocks, athwart the rising moon, Moves up the east, where eagle never flew.
-- "And still her feet, no less than the sweet tune To which they moved, seemed as they moved, to blot The thoughts of him who gazed on them, & soon "All that was seemed as if it had been not, As if the gazer's mind was strewn beneath Her feet like embers, & she, thought by thought, "Trampled its fires into the dust of death, As Day upon the threshold of the east Treads out the lamps of night, until the breath "Of darkness reillumines even the least Of heaven's living eyes--like day she came, Making the night a dream; and ere she ceased "To move, as one between desire and shame Suspended, I said--'If, as it doth seem, Thou comest from the realm without a name, " 'Into this valley of perpetual dream, Shew whence I came, and where I am, and why-- Pass not away upon the passing stream.
' " 'Arise and quench thy thirst,' was her reply, And as a shut lily, stricken by the wand Of dewy morning's vital alchemy, "I rose; and, bending at her sweet command, Touched with faint lips the cup she raised, And suddenly my brain became as sand "Where the first wave had more than half erased The track of deer on desert Labrador, Whilst the fierce wolf from which they fled amazed "Leaves his stamp visibly upon the shore Until the second bursts--so on my sight Burst a new Vision never seen before.
-- "And the fair shape waned in the coming light As veil by veil the silent splendour drops From Lucifer, amid the chrysolite "Of sunrise ere it strike the mountain tops-- And as the presence of that fairest planet Although unseen is felt by one who hopes "That his day's path may end as he began it In that star's smile, whose light is like the scent Of a jonquil when evening breezes fan it, "Or the soft note in which his dear lament The Brescian shepherd breathes, or the caress That turned his weary slumber to content.
-- "So knew I in that light's severe excess The presence of that shape which on the stream Moved, as I moved along the wilderness, "More dimly than a day appearing dream, The ghost of a forgotten form of sleep A light from Heaven whose half extinguished beam "Through the sick day in which we wake to weep Glimmers, forever sought, forever lost.
-- So did that shape its obscure tenour keep "Beside my path, as silent as a ghost; But the new Vision, and its cold bright car, With savage music, stunning music, crost "The forest, and as if from some dread war Triumphantly returning, the loud million Fiercely extolled the fortune of her star.
-- "A moving arch of victory the vermilion And green & azure plumes of Iris had Built high over her wind-winged pavilion, "And underneath aetherial glory clad The wilderness, and far before her flew The tempest of the splendour which forbade Shadow to fall from leaf or stone;--the crew Seemed in that light like atomies that dance Within a sunbeam.
--Some upon the new "Embroidery of flowers that did enhance The grassy vesture of the desart, played, Forgetful of the chariot's swift advance; "Others stood gazing till within the shade Of the great mountain its light left them dim.
-- Others outspeeded it, and others made "Circles around it like the clouds that swim Round the high moon in a bright sea of air, And more did follow, with exulting hymn, "The chariot & the captives fettered there, But all like bubbles on an eddying flood Fell into the same track at last & were "Borne onward.
--I among the multitude Was swept; me sweetest flowers delayed not long, Me not the shadow nor the solitude, "Me not the falling stream's Lethean song, Me, not the phantom of that early form Which moved upon its motion,--but among "The thickest billows of the living storm I plunged, and bared my bosom to the clime Of that cold light, whose airs too soon deform.
-- "Before the chariot had begun to climb The opposing steep of that mysterious dell, Behold a wonder worthy of the rhyme "Of him whom from the lowest depths of Hell Through every Paradise & through all glory Love led serene, & who returned to tell "In words of hate & awe the wondrous story How all things are transfigured, except Love; For deaf as is a sea which wrath makes hoary "The world can hear not the sweet notes that move The sphere whose light is melody to lovers--- A wonder worthy of his rhyme--the grove "Grew dense with shadows to its inmost covers, The earth was grey with phantoms, & the air Was peopled with dim forms, as when there hovers "A flock of vampire-bats before the glare Of the tropic sun, bring ere evening Strange night upon some Indian isle,--thus were "Phantoms diffused around, & some did fling Shadows of shadows, yet unlike themselves, Behind them, some like eaglets on the wing "Were lost in the white blaze, others like elves Danced in a thousand unimagined shapes Upon the sunny streams & grassy shelves; "And others sate chattering like restless apes On vulgar paws and voluble like fire.
Some made a cradle of the ermined capes "Of kingly mantles, some upon the tiar Of pontiffs sate like vultures, others played Within the crown which girt with empire "A baby's or an idiot's brow, & made Their nests in it; the old anatomies Sate hatching their bare brood under the shade "Of demon wings, and laughed from their dead eyes To reassume the delegated power Arrayed in which these worms did monarchize "Who make this earth their charnel.
--Others more Humble, like falcons sate upon the fist Of common men, and round their heads did soar, "Or like small gnats & flies, as thick as mist On evening marshes, thronged about the brow Of lawyer, statesman, priest & theorist, "And others like discoloured flakes of snow On fairest bosoms & the sunniest hair Fell, and were melted by the youthful glow "Which they extinguished; for like tears, they were A veil to those from whose faint lids they rained In drops of sorrow.
--I became aware "Of whence those forms proceeded which thus stained The track in which we moved; after brief space From every form the beauty slowly waned, "From every firmest limb & fairest face The strength & freshness fell like dust, & left The action & the shape without the grace "Of life; the marble brow of youth was cleft With care, and in the eyes where once hope shone Desire like a lioness bereft "Of its last cub, glared ere it died; each one Of that great crowd sent forth incessantly These shadows, numerous as the dead leaves blown "In Autumn evening from a popular tree-- Each, like himself & like each other were, At first, but soon distorted, seemed to be "Obscure clouds moulded by the casual air; And of this stuff the car's creative ray Wrought all the busy phantoms that were there "As the sun shapes the clouds--thus, on the way Mask after mask fell from the countenance And form of all, and long before the day "Was old, the joy which waked like Heaven's glance The sleepers in the oblivious valley, died, And some grew weary of the ghastly dance "And fell, as I have fallen by the way side, Those soonest from whose forms most shadows past And least of strength & beauty did abide.
"-- "Then, what is Life?" I said .
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the cripple cast His eye upon the car which now had rolled Onward, as if that look must be the last, And answered .
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"Happy those for whom the fold Of .
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Burns , Robert

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A Red Red Rose

O, my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my Luve's like a melodie That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair as thou, my bonnie lass, So deep in luve am I; And I will love thee still, my dear, Till a' the seas gang dry.
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi' the sun: I will love thess till, my dear, While the sands o' life shall run: And fare thee well, my only luve! And fare thee weel, a while! And I will come again, my luve, Tho' it ware ten thousand mile.


Keats , John

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Hyperion

 BOOK I

 Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung above his head
Like cloud on cloud.
No stir of air was there, Not so much life as on a summer's day Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass, But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more By reason of his fallen divinity Spreading a shade: the Naiad 'mid her reeds Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.
Along the margin-sand large foot-marks went, No further than to where his feet had stray'd, And slept there since.
Upon the sodden ground His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead, Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed; While his bow'd head seem'd list'ning to the Earth, His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.
It seem'd no force could wake him from his place; But there came one, who with a kindred hand Touch'd his wide shoulders, after bending low With reverence, though to one who knew it not.
She was a Goddess of the infant world; By her in stature the tall Amazon Had stood a pigmy's height: she would have ta'en Achilles by the hair and bent his neck; Or with a finger stay'd Ixion's wheel.
Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinx, Pedestal'd haply in a palace court, When sages look'd to Egypt for their lore.
But oh! how unlike marble was that face: How beautiful, if sorrow had not made Sorrow more beautiful than Beauty's self.
There was a listening fear in her regard, As if calamity had but begun; As if the vanward clouds of evil days Had spent their malice, and the sullen rear Was with its stored thunder labouring up.
One hand she press'd upon that aching spot Where beats the human heart, as if just there, Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain: The other upon Saturn's bended neck She laid, and to the level of his ear Leaning with parted lips, some words she spake In solemn tenor and deep organ tone: Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue Would come in these like accents; O how frail To that large utterance of the early Gods! "Saturn, look up!---though wherefore, poor old King? I have no comfort for thee, no not one: I cannot say, 'O wherefore sleepest thou?' For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth Knows thee not, thus afflicted, for a God; And ocean too, with all its solemn noise, Has from thy sceptre pass'd; and all the air Is emptied of thine hoary majesty.
Thy thunder, conscious of the new command, Rumbles reluctant o'er our fallen house; And thy sharp lightning in unpractised hands Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
O aching time! O moments big as years! All as ye pass swell out the monstrous truth, And press it so upon our weary griefs That unbelief has not a space to breathe.
Saturn, sleep on:---O thoughtless, why did I Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude? Why should I ope thy melancholy eyes? Saturn, sleep on! while at thy feet I weep.
" As when, upon a tranced summer-night, Those green-rob'd senators of mighty woods, Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars, Dream, and so dream all night without a stir, Save from one gradual solitary gust Which comes upon the silence, and dies off, As if the ebbing air had but one wave; So came these words and went; the while in tears She touch'd her fair large forehead to the ground, Just where her fallen hair might be outspread A soft and silken mat for Saturn's feet.
One moon, with alteration slow, had shed Her silver seasons four upon the night, And still these two were postured motionless, Like natural sculpture in cathedral cavern; The frozen God still couchant on the earth, And the sad Goddess weeping at his feet: Until at length old Saturn lifted up His faded eyes, and saw his kingdom gone, And all the gloom and sorrow ofthe place, And that fair kneeling Goddess; and then spake, As with a palsied tongue, and while his beard Shook horrid with such aspen-malady: "O tender spouse of gold Hyperion, Thea, I feel thee ere I see thy face; Look up, and let me see our doom in it; Look up, and tell me if this feeble shape Is Saturn's; tell me, if thou hear'st the voice Of Saturn; tell me, if this wrinkling brow, Naked and bare of its great diadem, Peers like the front of Saturn? Who had power To make me desolate? Whence came the strength? How was it nurtur'd to such bursting forth, While Fate seem'd strangled in my nervous grasp? But it is so; and I am smother'd up, And buried from all godlike exercise Of influence benign on planets pale, Of admonitions to the winds and seas, Of peaceful sway above man's harvesting, And all those acts which Deity supreme Doth ease its heart of love in.
---I am gone Away from my own bosom: I have left My strong identity, my real self, Somewhere between the throne, and where I sit Here on this spot of earth.
Search, Thea, search! Open thine eyes eterne, and sphere them round Upon all space: space starr'd, and lorn of light; Space region'd with life-air; and barren void; Spaces of fire, and all the yawn of hell.
--- Search, Thea, search! and tell me, if thou seest A certain shape or shadow, making way With wings or chariot fierce to repossess A heaven he lost erewhile: it must---it must Be of ripe progress---Saturn must be King.
Yes, there must be a golden victory; There must be Gods thrown down, and trumpets blown Of triumph calm, and hymns of festival Upon the gold clouds metropolitan, Voices of soft proclaim, and silver stir Of strings in hollow shells; and there shall be Beautiful things made new, for the surprise Of the sky-children; I will give command: Thea! Thea! Thea! where is Saturn?" This passion lifted him upon his feet, And made his hands to struggle in the air, His Druid locks to shake and ooze with sweat, His eyes to fever out, his voice to cease.
He stood, and heard not Thea's sobbing deep; A little time, and then again he snatch'd Utterance thus.
---"But cannot I create? Cannot I form? Cannot I fashion forth Another world, another universe, To overbear and crumble this to nought? Where is another Chaos? Where?"---That word Found way unto Olympus, and made quake The rebel three.
---Thea was startled up, And in her bearing was a sort of hope, As thus she quick-voic'd spake, yet full of awe.
"This cheers our fallen house: come to our friends, O Saturn! come away, and give them heart; I know the covert, for thence came I hither.
" Thus brief; then with beseeching eyes she went With backward footing through the shade a space: He follow'd, and she turn'd to lead the way Through aged boughs, that yielded like the mist Which eagles cleave upmounting from their nest.
Meanwhile in other realms big tears were shed, More sorrow like to this, and such like woe, Too huge for mortal tongue or pen of scribe: The Titans fierce, self-hid, or prison-bound, Groan'd for the old allegiance once more, And listen'd in sharp pain for Saturn's voice.
But one of the whole mammoth-brood still kept His sov'reigny, and rule, and majesy;--- Blazing Hyperion on his orbed fire Still sat, still snuff'd the incense, teeming up From man to the sun's God: yet unsecure: For as among us mortals omens drear Fright and perplex, so also shuddered he--- Not at dog's howl, or gloom-bird's hated screech, Or the familiar visiting of one Upon the first toll of his passing-bell, Or prophesyings of the midnight lamp; But horrors, portion'd to a giant nerve, Oft made Hyperion ache.
His palace bright, Bastion'd with pyramids of glowing gold, And touch'd with shade of bronzed obelisks, Glar'd a blood-red through all its thousand courts, Arches, and domes, and fiery galleries; And all its curtains of Aurorian clouds Flush'd angerly: while sometimes eagles' wings, Unseen before by Gods or wondering men, Darken'd the place; and neighing steeds were heard Not heard before by Gods or wondering men.
Also, when he would taste the spicy wreaths Of incense, breath'd aloft from sacred hills, Instead of sweets, his ample palate took Savor of poisonous brass and metal sick: And so, when harbor'd in the sleepy west, After the full completion of fair day,--- For rest divine upon exalted couch, And slumber in the arms of melody, He pac'd away the pleasant hours of ease With stride colossal, on from hall to hall; While far within each aisle and deep recess, His winged minions in close clusters stood, Amaz'd and full offear; like anxious men Who on wide plains gather in panting troops, When earthquakes jar their battlements and towers.
Even now, while Saturn, rous'd from icy trance, Went step for step with Thea through the woods, Hyperion, leaving twilight in the rear, Came slope upon the threshold of the west; Then, as was wont, his palace-door flew ope In smoothest silence, save what solemn tubes, Blown by the serious Zephyrs, gave of sweet And wandering sounds, slow-breathed melodies; And like a rose in vermeil tint and shape, In fragrance soft, and coolness to the eye, That inlet to severe magnificence Stood full blown, for the God to enter in.
He enter'd, but he enter'd full of wrath; His flaming robes stream'd out beyond his heels, And gave a roar, as if of earthly fire, That scar'd away the meek ethereal Hours And made their dove-wings tremble.
On he flared From stately nave to nave, from vault to vault, Through bowers of fragrant and enwreathed light, And diamond-paved lustrous long arcades, Until he reach'd the great main cupola; There standing fierce beneath, he stampt his foot, And from the basements deep to the high towers Jarr'd his own golden region; and before The quavering thunder thereupon had ceas'd, His voice leapt out, despite of godlike curb, To this result: "O dreams of day and night! O monstrous forms! O effigies of pain! O spectres busy in a cold, cold gloom! O lank-eared phantoms of black-weeded pools! Why do I know ye? why have I seen ye? why Is my eternal essence thus distraught To see and to behold these horrors new? Saturn is fallen, am I too to fall? Am I to leave this haven of my rest, This cradle of my glory, this soft clime, This calm luxuriance of blissful light, These crystalline pavilions, and pure fanes, Of all my lucent empire? It is left Deserted, void, nor any haunt of mine.
The blaze, the splendor, and the symmetry, I cannot see but darkness, death, and darkness.
Even here, into my centre of repose, The shady visions come to domineer, Insult, and blind, and stifle up my pomp.
--- Fall!---No, by Tellus and her briny robes! Over the fiery frontier of my realms I will advance a terrible right arm Shall scare that infant thunderer, rebel Jove, And bid old Saturn take his throne again.
"--- He spake, and ceas'd, the while a heavier threat Held struggle with his throat but came not forth; For as in theatres of crowded men Hubbub increases more they call out "Hush!" So at Hyperion's words the phantoms pale Bestirr'd themselves, thrice horrible and cold; And from the mirror'd level where he stood A mist arose, as from a scummy marsh.
At this, through all his bulk an agony Crept gradual, from the feet unto the crown, Like a lithe serpent vast and muscular Making slow way, with head and neck convuls'd From over-strained might.
Releas'd, he fled To the eastern gates, and full six dewy hours Before the dawn in season due should blush, He breath'd fierce breath against the sleepy portals, Clear'd them of heavy vapours, burst them wide Suddenly on the ocean's chilly streams.
The planet orb of fire, whereon he rode Each day from east to west the heavens through, Spun round in sable curtaining of clouds; Not therefore veiled quite, blindfold, and hid, But ever and anon the glancing spheres, Circles, and arcs, and broad-belting colure, Glow'd through, and wrought upon the muffling dark Sweet-shaped lightnings from the nadir deep Up to the zenith,---hieroglyphics old, Which sages and keen-eyed astrologers Then living on the earth, with laboring thought Won from the gaze of many centuries: Now lost, save what we find on remnants huge Of stone, or rnarble swart; their import gone, Their wisdom long since fled.
---Two wings this orb Possess'd for glory, two fair argent wings, Ever exalted at the God's approach: And now, from forth the gloom their plumes immense Rose, one by one, till all outspreaded were; While still the dazzling globe maintain'd eclipse, Awaiting for Hyperion's command.
Fain would he have commanded, fain took throne And bid the day begin, if but for change.
He might not:---No, though a primeval God: The sacred seasons might not be disturb'd.
Therefore the operations of the dawn Stay'd in their birth, even as here 'tis told.
Those silver wings expanded sisterly, Eager to sail their orb; the porches wide Open'd upon the dusk demesnes of night And the bright Titan, phrenzied with new woes, Unus'd to bend, by hard compulsion bent His spirit to the sorrow of the time; And all along a dismal rack of clouds, Upon the boundaries of day and night, He stretch'd himself in grief and radiance faint.
There as he lay, the Heaven with its stars Look'd down on him with pity, and the voice Of Coelus, from the universal space, Thus whisper'd low and solemn in his ear: "O brightest of my children dear, earth-born And sky-engendered, son of mysteries All unrevealed even to the powers Which met at thy creating; at whose joys And palpitations sweet, and pleasures soft, I, Coelus, wonder, how they came and whence; And at the fruits thereof what shapes they be, Distinct, and visible; symbols divine, Manifestations of that beauteous life Diffus'd unseen throughout eternal space: Of these new-form'd art thou, O brightest child! Of these, thy brethren and the Goddesses! There is sad feud among ye, and rebellion Of son against his sire.
I saw him fall, I saw my first-born tumbled from his throne! To me his arms were spread, to me his voice Found way from forth the thunders round his head! Pale wox I, and in vapours hid my face.
Art thou, too, near such doom? vague fear there is: For I have seen my sons most unlike Gods.
Divine ye were created, and divine In sad demeanour, solemn, undisturb'd, Unruffled, like high Gods, ye liv'd and ruled: Now I behold in you fear, hope, and wrath; Actions of rage and passion; even as I see them, on the mortal world beneath, In men who die.
---This is the grief, O son! Sad sign of ruin, sudden dismay, and fall! Yet do thou strive; as thou art capable, As thou canst move about, an evident God; And canst oppose to each malignant hour Ethereal presence:---I am but a voice; My life is but the life of winds and tides, No more than winds and tides can I avail:--- But thou canst.
---Be thou therefore in the van Of circumstance; yea, seize the arrow's barb Before the tense string murmur.
---To the earth! For there thou wilt find Saturn, and his woes.
Meantime I will keep watch on thy bright sun, And of thy seasons be a careful nurse.
"--- Ere half this region-whisper had come down, Hyperion arose, and on the stars Lifted his curved lids, and kept them wide Until it ceas'd; and still he kept them wide: And still they were the same bright, patient stars.
Then with a slow incline of his broad breast, Like to a diver in the pearly seas, Forward he stoop'd over the airy shore, And plung'd all noiseless into the deep night.
BOOK II Just at the self-same beat of Time's wide wings Hyperion slid into the rustled air, And Saturn gain'd with Thea that sad place Where Cybele and the bruised Titans mourn'd.
It was a den where no insulting light Could glimmer on their tears; where their own groans They felt, but heard not, for the solid roar Of thunderous waterfalls and torrents hoarse, Pouring a constant bulk, uncertain where.
Crag jutting forth to crag, and rocks that seem'd Ever as if just rising from a sleep, Forehead to forehead held their monstrous horns; And thus in thousand hugest phantasies Made a fit roofing to this nest of woe.
Instead of thrones, hard flint they sat upon, Couches of rugged stone, and slaty ridge Stubborn'd with iron.
All were not assembled: Some chain'd in torture, and some wandering.
Caus, and Gyges, and Briareus, Typhon, and Dolor, and Porphyrion, With many more, the brawniest in assault, Were pent in regions of laborious breath; Dungeon'd in opaque element, to keep Their clenched teeth still clench'd, and all their limbs Lock'd up like veins of metal, crampt and screw'd; Without a motion, save of their big hearts Heaving in pain, and horribly convuls'd With sanguine feverous boiling gurge of pulse.
Mnemosyne was straying in the world; Far from her moon had Phoebe wandered; And many else were free to roam abroad, But for the main, here found they covert drear.
Scarce images of life, one here, one there, Lay vast and edgeways; like a dismal cirque Of Druid stones, upon a forlorn moor, When the chill rain begins at shut of eve, In dull November, and their chancel vault, The Heaven itself, is blinded throughout night.
Each one kept shroud, nor to his neighbour gave Or word, or look, or action of despair.
Creus was one; his ponderous iron mace Lay by him, and a shatter'd rib of rock Told of his rage, ere he thus sank and pined.
Iapetus another; in his grasp, A serpent's plashy neck; its barbed tongue Squeez'd from the gorge, and all its uncurl'd length Dead: and because the creature could not spit Its poison in the eyes of conquering Jove.
Next Cottus: prone he lay, chin uppermost, As though in pain; for still upon the flint He ground severe his skull, with open mouth And eyes at horrid working.
Nearest him Asia, born of most enormous Caf, Who cost her mother Tellus keener pangs, Though feminine, than any of her sons: More thought than woe was in her dusky face, For she was prophesying of her glory; And in her wide imagination stood Palm-shaded temples, and high rival fanes By Oxus or in Ganges' sacred isles.
Even as Hope upon her anchor leans, So leant she, not so fair, upon a tusk Shed from the broadest of her elephants.
Above her, on a crag's uneasy shelve, Upon his elbow rais'd, all prostrate else, Shadow'd Enceladus; once tame and mild As grazing ox unworried in the meads; Now tiger-passion'd, lion-thoughted, wroth, He meditated, plotted, and even now Was hurling mountains in that second war, Not long delay'd, that scar'd the younger Gods To hide themselves in forms of beast and bird.
Not far hence Atlas; and beside him prone Phorcus, the sire of Gorgons.
Neighbour'd close Oceanus, and Tethys, in whose lap Sobb'd Clymene among her tangled hair.
In midst of all lay Themis, at the feet Of Ops the queen; all clouded round from sight, No shape distinguishable, more than when Thick night confounds the pine-tops with the clouds: And many else whose names may not be told.
For when the Muse's wings are air-ward spread, Who shall delay her flight? And she must chaunt Of Saturn, and his guide, who now had climb'd With damp and slippery footing from a depth More horrid still.
Above a sombre cliff Their heads appear'd, and up their stature grew Till on the level height their steps found ease: Then Thea spread abroad her trembling arms Upon the precincts of this nest of pain, And sidelong fix'd her eye on Saturn's face: There saw she direst strife; the supreme God At war with all the frailty of grief, Of rage, of fear, anxiety, revenge, Remorse, spleen, hope, but most of all despair.
Against these plagues he strove in vain; for Fate Had pour'd a mortal oil upon his head, A disanointing poison: so that Thea, Affrighted, kept her still, and let him pass First onwards in, among the fallen tribe.
As with us mortal men, the laden heart Is persecuted more, and fever'd more, When it is nighing to the mournful house Where other hearts are sick of the same bruise; So Saturn, as he walk'd into the midst, Felt faint, and would have sunk among the rest, But that he met Enceladus's eye, Whose mightiness, and awe of him, at once Came like an inspiration; and he shouted, "Titans, behold your God!" at which some groan'd; Some started on their feet; some also shouted; Some wept, some wail'd, all bow'd with reverence; And Ops, uplifting her black folded veil, Show'd her pale cheeks, and all her forehead wan, Her eye-brows thin and jet, and hollow eyes.
There is a roaring in the bleak-grown pines When Winter lifts his voice; there is a noise Among immortals when a God gives sign, With hushing finger, how he means to load His tongue with the filll weight of utterless thought, With thunder, and with music, and with pomp: Such noise is like the roar of bleak-grown pines; Which, when it ceases in this mountain'd world, No other sound succeeds; but ceasing here, Among these fallen, Saturn's voice therefrom Grew up like organ, that begins anew Its strain, when other harmonies, stopt short, Leave the dinn'd air vibrating silverly.
Thus grew it up---"Not in my own sad breast, Which is its own great judge and searcher out, Can I find reason why ye should be thus: Not in the legends of the first of days, Studied from that old spirit-leaved book Which starry Uranus with finger bright Sav'd from the shores of darkness, when the waves Low-ebb'd still hid it up in shallow gloom;--- And the which book ye know I ever kept For my firm-based footstool:---Ah, infirm! Not there, nor in sign, symbol, or portent Of element, earth, water, air, and fire,--- At war, at peace, or inter-quarreling One against one, or two, or three, or all Each several one against the other three, As fire with air loud warring when rain-floods Drown both, and press them both against earth's face, Where, finding sulphur, a quadruple wrath Unhinges the poor world;---not in that strife, Wherefrom I take strange lore, and read it deep, Can I find reason why ye should be thus: No, nowhere can unriddle, though I search, And pore on Nature's universal scroll Even to swooning, why ye, Divinities, The first-born of all shap'd and palpable Gods, Should cower beneath what, in comparison, Is untremendous might.
Yet ye are here, O'erwhelm'd, and spurn'd, and batter'd, ye are here! O Titans, shall I say 'Arise!'---Ye groan: Shall I say 'Crouch!'---Ye groan.
What can I then? O Heaven wide! O unseen parent dear! What can I? Tell me, all ye brethren Gods, How we can war, how engine our great wrath! O speak your counsel now, for Saturn's ear Is all a-hunger'd.
Thou, Oceanus, Ponderest high and deep; and in thy face I see, astonied, that severe content Which comes of thought and musing: give us help!" So ended Saturn; and the God of the sea, Sophist and sage, from no Athenian grove, But cogitation in his watery shades, Arose, with locks not oozy, and began, In murmurs, which his first-endeavouring tongue Caught infant-like from the far-foamed sands.
"O ye, whom wrath consumes! who, passion-stung, Writhe at defeat, and nurse your agonies! Shut up your senses, stifle up your ears, My voice is not a bellows unto ire.
Yet listen, ye who will, whilst I bring proof How ye, perforce, must be content to stoop: And in the proof much comfort will I give, If ye will take that comfort in its truth.
We fall by course of Nature's law, not force Of thunder, or of Jove.
Great Saturn, thou Hast sifted well the atom-universe; But for this reason, that thou art the King, And only blind from sheer supremacy, One avenue was shaded from thine eyes, Through which I wandered to eternal truth.
And first, as thou wast not the first of powers, So art thou not the last; it cannot be: Thou art not the beginning nor the end.
From Chaos and parental Darkness came Light, the first fruits of that intestine broil, That sullen ferment, which for wondrous ends Was ripening in itself.
The ripe hour came, And with it Light, and Light, engendering Upon its own producer, forthwith touch'd The whole enormous matter into life.
Upon that very hour, our parentage, The Heavens and the Earth, were manifest: Then thou first born, and we the giant race, Found ourselves ruling new and beauteous realms.
Now comes the pain of truth, to whom 'tis pain; O folly! for to bear all naked truths, And to envisage circumstance, all calm, That is the top of sovereignty.
Mark well! As Heaven and Earth are fairer, fairer far Than Chaos and blank Darkness, though once chiefs; And as we show beyond that Heaven and Earth In form and shape compact and beautiful, In will, in action free, companionship, And thousand other signs of purer life; So on our heels a fresh perfection treads, A power more strong in beauty, born of us And fated to excel us, as we pass In glory that old Darkness: nor are we Thereby more conquer'd, than by us the rule Of shapeless Chaos.
Say, doth the dull soil Quarrel with the proud forests it hath fed, And feedeth still, more comely than itself? Can it deny the chiefdom of green groves? Or shall the tree be envious of the dove Because it cooeth, and hath snowy wings To wander wherewithal and find its joys? We are such forest-trees, and our fair boughs Have bred forth, not pale solitary doves, But eagles golden-feather'd, who do tower Above us in their beauty, and must reign In right thereof; for 'tis the eternal law That first in beauty should be first in might: Yea, by that law, another race may drive Our conquerors to mourn as we do now.
Have ye beheld the young God of the seas, My dispossessor? Have ye seen his face? Have ye beheld his chariot, foam'd along By noble winged creatures he hath made? I saw him on the calmed waters scud, With such a glow of beauty in his eyes, That it enforc'd me to bid sad farewell To all my empire: farewell sad I took, And hither came, to see how dolorous fate Had wrought upon ye; and how I might best Give consolation in this woe extreme.
Receive the truth, and let it be your balm.
" Whether through pos'd conviction, or disdain, They guarded silence, when Oceanus Left murmuring, what deepest thought can tell? But so it was, none answer'd for a space, Save one whom none regarded, Clymene; And yet she answer'd not, only complain'd, With hectic lips, and eyes up-looking mild, Thus wording timidly among the fierce: "O Father! I am here the simplest voice, And all my knowledge is that joy is gone, And this thing woe crept in among our hearts, There to remain for ever, as I fear: I would not bode of evil, if I thought So weak a creature could turn off the help Which by just right should come of mighty Gods; Yet let me tell my sorrow, let me tell Of what I heard, and how it made me weep, And know that we had parted from all hope.
I stood upon a shore, a pleasant shore, Where a sweet clime was breathed from a land Of fragrance, quietness, and trees, and flowers.
Full of calm joy it was, as I of grief; Too full of joy and soft delicious warmth; So that I felt a movement in my heart To chide, and to reproach that solitude With songs of misery, music of our woes; And sat me down, and took a mouthed shell And murmur'd into it, and made melody--- O melody no more! for while I sang, And with poor skill let pass into the breeze The dull shell's echo, from a bowery strand Just opposite, an island of the sea, There came enchantment with the shifting wind, That did both drown and keep alive my ears.
I threw my shell away upon the sand, And a wave fill'd it, as my sense was fill'd With that new blissful golden melody.
A living death was in each gush of sounds, Each family of rapturous hurried notes, That fell, one after one, yet all at once, Like pearl beads dropping sudden from their string: And then another, then another strain, Each like a dove leaving its olive perch, With music wing'd instead of silent plumes, To hover round my head, and make me sick Of joy and grief at once.
Grief overcame, And I was stopping up my frantic ears, When, past all hindrance of my trembling hands, A voice came sweeter, sweeter than all tune, And still it cried, 'Apollo! young Apollo! The morning-bright Apollo! young Apollo!' I fled, it follow'd me, and cried 'Apollo!' O Father, and O Brethren, had ye felt Those pains of mine; O Saturn, hadst thou felt, Ye would not call this too indulged tongue Presumptuous, in thus venturing to be heard.
" So far her voice flow'd on, like timorous brook That, lingering along a pebbled coast, Doth fear to meet the sea: but sea it met, And shudder'd; for the overwhelming voice Of huge Enceladus swallow'd it in wrath: The ponderous syllables, like sullen waves In the half-glutted hollows of reef-rocks, Came booming thus, while still upon his arm He lean'd; not rising, from supreme contempt.
"Or shall we listen to the over-wise, Or to the over-foolish, Giant-Gods? Not thunderbolt on thunderbolt, till all That rebel Jove's whole armoury were spent, Not world on world upon these shoulders piled, Could agonize me more than baby-words In midst of this dethronement horrible.
Speak! roar! shout! yell! ye sleepy Titans all.
Do ye forget the blows, the buffets vile? Are ye not smitten by a youngling arm? Dost thou forget, sham Monarch of the waves, Thy scalding in the seas? What! have I rous'd Your spleens with so few simple words as these? O joy! for now I see ye are not lost: O joy! for now I see a thousand eyes Wide-glaring for revenge!"---As this he said, He lifted up his stature vast, and stood, Still without intermission speaking thus: "Now ye are flames, I'll tell you how to burn, And purge the ether of our enemies; How to feed fierce the crooked stings of fire, And singe away the swollen clouds of Jove, Stifling that puny essence in its tent.
O let him feel the evil he hath done; For though I scorn Oceanus's lore, Much pain have I for more than loss of realms: The days of peace and slumbrous calm are fled; Those days, all innocent of scathing war, When all the fair Existences of heaven Carne open-eyed to guess what we would speak:--- That was before our brows were taught to frown, Before our lips knew else but solemn sounds; That was before we knew the winged thing, Victory, might be lost, or might be won.
And be ye mindful that Hyperion, Our brightest brother, still is undisgraced--- Hyperion, lo! his radiance is here!" All eyes were on Enceladus's face, And they beheld, while still Hyperion's name Flew from his lips up to the vaulted rocks, A pallid gleam across his features stern: Not savage, for he saw full many a God Wroth as himself.
He look'd upon them all, And in each face he saw a gleam of light, But splendider in Saturn's, whose hoar locks Shone like the bubbling foam about a keel When the prow sweeps into a midnight cove.
In pale and silver silence they remain'd, Till suddenly a splendor, like the morn, Pervaded all the beetling gloomy steeps, All the sad spaces of oblivion, And every gulf, and every chasm old, And every height, and every sullen depth, Voiceless, or hoarse with loud tormented streams: And all the everlasting cataracts, And all the headlong torrents far and near, Mantled before in darkness and huge shade, Now saw the light and made it terrible.
It was Hyperion:---a granite peak His bright feet touch'd, and there he stay'd to view The misery his brilliance had betray'd To the most hateful seeing of itself.
Golden his hair of short Numidian curl, Regal his shape majestic, a vast shade In midst of his own brightness, like the bulk Of Memnon's image at the set of sun To one who travels from the dusking East: Sighs, too, as mournful as that Memnon's harp He utter'd, while his hands contemplative He press'd together, and in silence stood.
Despondence seiz'd again the fallen Gods At sight of the dejected King of day, And many hid their faces from the light: But fierce Enceladus sent forth his eyes Among the brotherhood; and, at their glare, Uprose Iapetus, and Creus too, And Phorcus, sea-born, and together strode To where he towered on his eminence.
There those four shouted forth old Saturn's name; Hyperion from the peak loud answered, "Saturn!" Saturn sat near the Mother of the Gods, In whose face was no joy, though all the Gods Gave from their hollow throats the name of "Saturn!" BOOK III Thus in altemate uproar and sad peace, Amazed were those Titans utterly.
O leave them, Muse! O leave them to their woes; For thou art weak to sing such tumults dire: A solitary sorrow best befits Thy lips, and antheming a lonely grief.
Leave them, O Muse! for thou anon wilt find Many a fallen old Divinity Wandering in vain about bewildered shores.
Meantime touch piously the Delphic harp, And not a wind of heaven but will breathe In aid soft warble from the Dorian flute; For lo! 'tis for the Father of all verse.
Flush everything that hath a vermeil hue, Let the rose glow intense and warm the air, And let the clouds of even and of morn Float in voluptuous fleeces o'er the hills; Let the red wine within the goblet boil, Cold as a bubbling well; let faint-lipp'd shells, On sands, or in great deeps, vermilion turn Through all their labyrinths; and let the maid Blush keenly, as with some warm kiss surpris'd.
Chief isle of the embowered Cyclades, Rejoice, O Delos, with thine olives green, And poplars, and lawn-shading palms, and beech, In which the Zephyr breathes the loudest song, And hazels thick, dark-stemm'd beneath the shade: Apollo is once more the golden theme! Where was he, when the Giant of the sun Stood bright, amid the sorrow of his peers? Together had he left his mother fair And his twin-sister sleeping in their bower, And in the morning twilight wandered forth Beside the osiers of a rivulet, Full ankle-deep in lilies of the vale.
The nightingale had ceas'd, and a few stars Were lingering in the heavens, while the thrush Began calm-throated.
Throughout all the isle There was no covert, no retired cave, Unhaunted by the murmurous noise of waves, Though scarcely heard in many a green recess.
He listen'd, and he wept, and his bright tears Went trickling down the golden bow he held.
Thus with half-shut suffused eyes he stood, While from beneath some cumbrous boughs hard by With solemn step an awful Goddess came, And there was purport in her looks for him, Which he with eager guess began to read Perplex'd, the while melodiously he said: "How cam'st thou over the unfooted sea? Or hath that antique mien and robed form Mov'd in these vales invisible till now? Sure I have heard those vestments sweeping o'er The fallen leaves, when I have sat alone In cool mid-forest.
Surely I have traced The rustle of those ample skirts about These grassy solitudes, and seen the flowers Lift up their heads, as still the whisper pass'd.
Goddess! I have beheld those eyes before, And their eternal calm, and all that face, Or I have dream'd.
"---"Yes," said the supreme shape, "Thou hast dream'd of me; and awaking up Didst find a lyre all golden by thy side, Whose strings touch'd by thy fingers, all the vast Unwearied ear of the whole universe Listen'd in pain and pleasure at the birth Of such new tuneful wonder.
Is't not strange That thou shouldst weep, so gifted? Tell me, youth, What sorrow thou canst feel; for I am sad When thou dost shed a tear: explain thy griefs To one who in this lonely isle hath been The watcher of thy sleep and hours of life, From the young day when first thy infant hand Pluck'd witless the weak flowers, till thine arm Could bend that bow heroic to all times.
Show thy heart's secret to an ancient Power Who hath forsaken old and sacred thrones For prophecies of thee, and for the sake Of loveliness new born.
"---Apollo then, With sudden scrutiny and gloomless eyes, Thus answer'd, while his white melodious throat Throbb'd with the syllables.
---"Mnemosyne! Thy name is on my tongue, I know not how; Why should I tell thee what thou so well seest? Why should I strive to show what from thy lips Would come no mystery? For me, dark, dark, And painful vile oblivion seals my eyes: I strive to search wherefore I am so sad, Until a melancholy numbs my limbs; And then upon the grass I sit, and moan, Like one who once had wings.
---O why should I Feel curs'd and thwarted, when the liegeless air Yields to my step aspirant? why should I Spurn the green turf as hateful to my feet? Goddess benign, point forth some unknown thing: Are there not other regions than this isle? What are the stars? There is the sun, the sun! And the most patient brilliance of the moon! And stars by thousands! Point me out the way To any one particular beauteous star, And I will flit into it with my lyre, And make its silvery splendor pant with bliss.
I have heard the cloudy thunder: Where is power? Whose hand, whose essence, what divinity Makes this alarum in the elements, While I here idle listen on the shores In fearless yet in aching ignorance? O tell me, lonely Goddess, by thy harp, That waileth every morn and eventide, Tell me why thus I rave about these groves! Mute thou remainest---Mute! yet I can read A wondrous lesson in thy silent face: Knowledge enormous makes a God of me.
Names, deeds, gray legends, dire events, rebellions, Majesties, sovran voices, agonies, Creations and destroyings, all at once Pour into the wide hollows of my brain, And deify me, as if some blithe wine Or bright elixir peerless I had drunk, And so become immortal.
"---Thus the God, While his enkindled eyes, with level glance Beneath his white soft temples, steadfast kept Trembling with light upon Mnemosyne.
Soon wild commotions shook him, and made flush All the immortal fairness of his limbs; Most like the struggle at the gate of death; Or liker still to one who should take leave Of pale immortal death, and with a pang As hot as death's is chill, with fierce convulse Die into life: so young Apollo anguish'd: His very hair, his golden tresses famed, Kept undulation round his eager neck.
During the pain Mnemosyne upheld Her arms as one who prophesied.
At length Apollo shriek'd;---and lo! from all his limbs Celestial.


Wordsworth , William

 | 

THE IDIOT BOY

The IDIOT BOY.

  'Tis eight o'clock,—a clear March night,
  The moon is up—the sky is blue,
  The owlet in the moonlight air,
  He shouts from nobody knows where;
  He lengthens out his lonely shout,
  Halloo! halloo! a long halloo!

  —Why bustle thus about your door,
  What means this bustle, Betty Foy?
  Why are you in this mighty fret?
  And why on horseback have you set
  Him whom you love, your idiot boy?

  Beneath the moon that shines so bright,
  Till she is tired, let Betty Foy
  With girt and stirrup fiddle-faddle;
  But wherefore set upon a saddle
  Him whom she loves, her idiot boy?

  There's scarce a soul that's out of bed;
  Good Betty put him down again;
  His lips with joy they burr at you,
  But, Betty! what has he to do
  With stirrup, saddle, or with rein?

  The world will say 'tis very idle,
  Bethink you of the time of night;
  There's not a mother, no not one,
  But when she hears what you have done,
  Oh! Betty she'll be in a fright.

  But Betty's bent on her intent,
  For her good neighbour, Susan Gale,
  Old Susan, she who dwells alone,
  Is sick, and makes a piteous moan,
  As if her very life would fail.

  There's not a house within a mile,
  No hand to help them in distress;
  Old Susan lies a bed in pain,
  And sorely puzzled are the twain,
  For what she ails they cannot guess.

  And Betty's husband's at the wood,
  Where by the week he doth abide,
  A woodman in the distant vale;
  There's none to help poor Susan Gale,
  What must be done? what will betide?

  And Betty from the lane has fetched
  Her pony, that is mild and good,
  Whether he be in joy or pain,
  Feeding at will along the lane,
  Or bringing faggots from the wood.

  And he is all in travelling trim,
  And by the moonlight, Betty Foy
  Has up upon the saddle set,
  The like was never heard of yet,
  Him whom she loves, her idiot boy.

  And he must post without delay
  Across the bridge that's in the dale,
  And by the church, and o'er the down,
  To bring a doctor from the town,
  Or she will die, old Susan Gale.

  There is no need of boot or spur,
  There is no need of whip or wand,
  For Johnny has his holly-bough,
  And with a hurly-burly now
  He shakes the green bough in his hand.

  And Betty o'er and o'er has told
  The boy who is her best delight,
  Both what to follow, what to shun,
  What do, and what to leave undone,
  How turn to left, and how to right.

  And Betty's most especial charge,
  Was, "Johnny! Johnny! mind that you
  Come home again, nor stop at all,
  Come home again, whate'er befal,
  My Johnny do, I pray you do.
"

  To this did Johnny answer make,
  Both with his head, and with his hand,
  And proudly shook the bridle too,
  And then! his words were not a few,
  Which Betty well could understand.

  And now that Johnny is just going,
  Though Betty's in a mighty flurry,
  She gently pats the pony's side,
  On which her idiot boy must ride,
  And seems no longer in a hurry.

  But when the pony moved his legs,
  Oh! then for the poor idiot boy!
  For joy he cannot hold the bridle,
  For joy his head and heels are idle,
  He's idle all for very joy.

  And while the pony moves his legs,
  In Johnny's left hand you may see,
  The green bough's motionless and dead:
  The moon that shines above his head
  Is not more still and mute than he.

  His heart it was so full of glee,
  That till full fifty yards were gone,
  He quite forgot his holly whip,
  And all his skill in horsemanship,
  Oh! happy, happy, happy John.

  And Betty's standing at the door,
  And Betty's face with joy o'erflows,
  Proud of herself, and proud of him,
  She sees him in his travelling trim;
  How quietly her Johnny goes.

  The silence of her idiot boy,
  What hopes it sends to Betty's heart!
  He's at the guide-post—he turns right,
  She watches till he's out of sight,
  And Betty will not then depart.

  Burr, burr—now Johnny's lips they burr,
  As loud as any mill, or near it,
  Meek as a lamb the pony moves,
  And Johnny makes the noise he loves,
  And Betty listens, glad to hear it.

  Away she hies to Susan Gale:
  And Johnny's in a merry tune,
  The owlets hoot, the owlets purr,
  And Johnny's lips they burr, burr, burr,
  And on he goes beneath the moon.

  His steed and he right well agree,
  For of this pony there's a rumour,
  That should he lose his eyes and ears,
  And should he live a thousand years,
  He never will be out of humour.

  But then he is a horse that thinks!
  And when he thinks his pace is slack;
  Now, though he knows poor Johnny well,
  Yet for his life he cannot tell
  What he has got upon his back.

  So through the moonlight lanes they go,
  And far into the moonlight dale,
  And by the church, and o'er the down,
  To bring a doctor from the town,
  To comfort poor old Susan Gale.

  And Betty, now at Susan's side,
  Is in the middle of her story,
  What comfort Johnny soon will bring,
  With many a most diverting thing,
  Of Johnny's wit and Johnny's glory.

  And Betty's still at Susan's side:
  By this time she's not quite so flurried;
  Demure with porringer and plate
  She sits, as if in Susan's fate
  Her life and soul were buried.

  But Betty, poor good woman! she,
  You plainly in her face may read it,
  Could lend out of that moment's store
  Five years of happiness or more,
  To any that might need it.

  But yet I guess that now and then
  With Betty all was not so well,
  And to the road she turns her ears,
  And thence full many a sound she hears,
  Which she to Susan will not tell.

  Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans,
  "As sure as there's a moon in heaven,"
  Cries Betty, "he'll be back again;
  They'll both be here, 'tis almost ten,
  They'll both be here before eleven.
"

  Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans,
  The clock gives warning for eleven;
  'Tis on the stroke—"If Johnny's near,"
  Quoth Betty "he will soon be here,
  As sure as there's a moon in heaven.
"

  The clock is on the stroke of twelve,
  And Johnny is not yet in sight,
  The moon's in heaven, as Betty sees,
  But Betty is not quite at ease;
  And Susan has a dreadful night.

  And Betty, half an hour ago,
  On Johnny vile reflections cast:
  "A little idle sauntering thing!"
  With other names, an endless string.
  But now that time is gone and past.

  And Betty's drooping at the heart.
  That happy time all past and gone,
  "How can it be he is so late?
  The Doctor he has made him wait,
  Susan! they'll both be here anon.
"

  And Susan's growing worse and worse,
  And Betty's in a sad quandary;
  And then there's nobody to say
  If she must go or she must stay:
  —She's in a sad quandary.

  The clock is on the stroke of one;
  But neither Doctor nor his guide
  Appear along the moonlight road,
  There's neither horse nor man abroad,
  And Betty's still at Susan's side.

  And Susan she begins to fear
  Of sad mischances not a few,
  That Johnny may perhaps be drown'd,
  Or lost perhaps, and never found;
  Which they must both for ever rue.

  She prefaced half a hint of this
  With, "God forbid it should be true!"
  At the first word that Susan said
  Cried Betty, rising from the bed,
  "Susan, I'd gladly stay with you.
"

  "I must be gone, I must away,
  Consider, Johnny's but half-wise;
  Susan, we must take care of him,
  If he is hurt in life or limb"—
  "Oh God forbid!" poor Susan cries.

  "What can I do?" says Betty, going,
  "What can I do to ease your pain?
  Good Susan tell me, and I'll stay;
  I fear you're in a dreadful way,
  But I shall soon be back again.
"

  "Nay, Betty, go! good Betty, go!
  There's nothing that can ease my pain.
"
  Then off she hies, but with a prayer
  That God poor Susan's life would spare,
  Till she comes back again.

  So, through the moonlight lane she goes,
  And far into the moonlight dale;
  And how she ran, and how she walked,
  And all that to herself she talked,
  Would surely be a tedious tale.

  In high and low, above, below,
  In great and small, in round and square,
  In tree and tower was Johnny seen,
  In bush and brake, in black and green,
  'Twas Johnny, Johnny, every where.

  She's past the bridge that's in the dale,
  And now the thought torments her sore,
  Johnny perhaps his horse forsook,
  To hunt the moon that's in the brook,
  And never will be heard of more.

  And now she's high upon the down,
  Alone amid a prospect wide;
  There's neither Johnny nor his horse,
  Among the fern or in the gorse;
  There's neither doctor nor his guide.

  "Oh saints! what is become of him?
  Perhaps he's climbed into an oak,
  Where he will stay till he is dead;
  Or sadly he has been misled,
  And joined the wandering gypsey-folk.
"

  "Or him that wicked pony's carried
  To the dark cave, the goblins' hall,
  Or in the castle he's pursuing,
  Among the ghosts, his own undoing;
  Or playing with the waterfall,"

  At poor old Susan then she railed,
  While to the town she posts away;
  "If Susan had not been so ill,
  Alas! I should have had him still,
  My Johnny, till my dying day.
"

  Poor Betty! in this sad distemper,
  The doctor's self would hardly spare,
  Unworthy things she talked and wild,
  Even he, of cattle the most mild,
  The pony had his share.

  And now she's got into the town,
  And to the doctor's door she hies;
  'Tis silence all on every side;
  The town so long, the town so wide,
  Is silent as the skies.

  And now she's at the doctor's door,
  She lifts the knocker, rap, rap, rap,
  The doctor at the casement shews,
  His glimmering eyes that peep and doze;
  And one hand rubs his old night-cap.

  "Oh Doctor! Doctor! where's my Johnny?"
  "I'm here, what is't you want with me?"
  "Oh Sir! you know I'm Betty Foy,
  And I have lost my poor dear boy,
  You know him—him you often see;"

  "He's not so wise as some folks be,"
  "The devil take his wisdom!" said
  The Doctor, looking somewhat grim,
  "What, woman! should I know of him?"
  And, grumbling, he went back to bed.

  "O woe is me! O woe is me!
  Here will I die; here will I die;
  I thought to find my Johnny here,
  But he is neither far nor near,
  Oh! what a wretched mother I!"

  She stops, she stands, she looks about,
  Which way to turn she cannot tell.
  Poor Betty! it would ease her pain
  If she had heart to knock again;
  —The clock strikes three—a dismal knell!

  Then up along the town she hies,
  No wonder if her senses fail,
  This piteous news so much it shock'd her,
  She quite forgot to send the Doctor,
  To comfort poor old Susan Gale.

  And now she's high upon the down,
  And she can see a mile of road,
  "Oh cruel! I'm almost three-score;
  Such night as this was ne'er before,
  There's not a single soul abroad.
"

  She listens, but she cannot hear
  The foot of horse, the voice of man;
  The streams with softest sound are flowing,
  The grass you almost hear it growing,
  You hear it now if e'er you can.

  The owlets through the long blue night
  Are shouting to each other still:
  Fond lovers, yet not quite hob nob,
  They lengthen out the tremulous sob,
  That echoes far from hill to hill.

  Poor Betty now has lost all hope,
  Her thoughts are bent on deadly sin;
  A green-grown pond she just has pass'd,
  And from the brink she hurries fast,
  Lest she should drown herself therein.

  And now she sits her down and weeps;
  Such tears she never shed before;
  "Oh dear, dear pony! my sweet joy!
  Oh carry back my idiot boy!
  And we will ne'er o'erload thee more.
"

  A thought it come into her head;
  "The pony he is mild and good,
  And we have always used him well;
  Perhaps he's gone along the dell,
  And carried Johnny to the wood.
"

  Then up she springs as if on wings;
  She thinks no more of deadly sin;
  If Betty fifty ponds should see,
  The last of all her thoughts would be,
  To drown herself therein.

  Oh reader! now that I might tell
  What Johnny and his horse are doing!
  What they've been doing all this time,
  Oh could I put it into rhyme,
  A most delightful tale pursuing!

  Perhaps, and no unlikely thought!
  He with his pony now doth roam
  The cliffs and peaks so high that are,
  To lay his hands upon a star,
  And in his pocket bring it home.

  Perhaps he's turned himself about,
  His face unto his horse's tail,
  And still and mute, in wonder lost,
  All like a silent horse-man ghost,
  He travels on along the vale.

  And now, perhaps, he's hunting sheep,
  A fierce and dreadful hunter he!
  Yon valley, that's so trim and green,
  In five months' time, should he be seen,
  A desart wilderness will be.

  Perhaps, with head and heels on fire,
  And like the very soul of evil,
  He's galloping away, away,
  And so he'll gallop on for aye,
  The bane of all that dread the devil.

  I to the muses have been bound
  These fourteen years, by strong indentures:
  Oh gentle muses! let me tell
  But half of what to him befel,
  For sure he met with strange adventures.

  Oh gentle muses! is this kind
  Why will ye thus my suit repel?
  Why of your further aid bereave me?
  And can ye thus unfriended leave me?
  Ye muses! whom I love so well.

  Who's yon, that, near the waterfall,
  Which thunders down with headlong force,
  Beneath the moon, yet shining fair,
  As careless as if nothing were,
  Sits upright on a feeding horse?

  Unto his horse, that's feeding free,
  He seems, I think, the rein to give;
  Of moon or stars he takes no heed;
  Of such we in romances read,
  —Tis Johnny! Johnny! as I live.

  And that's the very pony too.
  Where is she, where is Betty Foy?
  She hardly can sustain her fears;
  The roaring water-fall she hears,
  And cannot find her idiot boy.

  Your pony's worth his weight in gold,
  Then calm your terrors, Betty Foy!
  She's coming from among the trees,
  And now all full in view she sees
  Him whom she loves, her idiot boy.

  And Betty sees the pony too:
  Why stand you thus Good Betty Foy?
  It is no goblin, 'tis no ghost,
  'Tis he whom you so long have lost,
  He whom you love, your idiot boy.

  She looks again-her arms are up—
  She screams—she cannot move for joy;
  She darts as with a torrent's force,
  She almost has o'erturned the horse,
  And fast she holds her idiot boy.

  And Johnny burrs, and laughs aloud,
  Whether in cunning or in joy,
  I cannot tell; but while he laughs,
  Betty a drunken pleasure quaffs,
  To hear again her idiot boy.

  And now she's at the pony's tail,
  And now she's at the pony's head,
  On that side now, and now on this,
  And almost stifled with her bliss,
  A few sad tears does Betty shed.

  She kisses o'er and o'er again,
  Him whom she loves, her idiot boy,
  She's happy here, she's happy there.
  She is uneasy every where;
  Her limbs are all alive with joy.

  She pats the pony, where or when
  She knows not, happy Betty Foy!
  The little pony glad may be,
  But he is milder far than she,
  You hardly can perceive his joy.

  "Oh! Johnny, never mind the Doctor;
  You've done your best, and that is all.
"
  She took the reins, when this was said,
  And gently turned the pony's head
  From the loud water-fall.

  By this the stars were almost gone,
  The moon was setting on the hill,
  So pale you scarcely looked at her:
  The little birds began to stir,
  Though yet their tongues were still.

  The pony, Betty, and her boy,
  Wind slowly through the woody dale;
  And who is she, be-times abroad,
  That hobbles up the steep rough road?
  Who is it, but old Susan Gale?

  Long Susan lay deep lost in thought,
  And many dreadful fears beset her,
  Both for her messenger and nurse;
  And as her mind grew worse and worse,
  Her body it grew better.

  She turned, she toss'd herself in bed,
  On all sides doubts and terrors met her;
  Point after point did she discuss;
  And while her mind was fighting thus,
  Her body still grew better.

  "Alas! what is become of them?
  These fears can never be endured,
  I'll to the wood.
"—The word scarce said,
  Did Susan rise up from her bed,
  As if by magic cured.

  Away she posts up hill and down,
  And to the wood at length is come,
  She spies her friends, she shouts a greeting;
  Oh me! it is a merry meeting,
  As ever was in Christendom.

  The owls have hardly sung their last,
  While our four travellers homeward wend;
  The owls have hooted all night long,
  And with the owls began my song,
  And with the owls must end.

  For while they all were travelling home,
  Cried Betty, "Tell us Johnny, do,
  Where all this long night you have been,
  What you have heard, what you have seen,
  And Johnny, mind you tell us true.
"

  Now Johnny all night long had heard
  The owls in tuneful concert strive;
  No doubt too he the moon had seen;
  For in the moonlight he had been
  From eight o'clock till five.

  And thus to Betty's question, he,
  Made answer, like a traveller bold,
  (His very words I give to you,)
  "The cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo,
  And the sun did shine so cold.
"
  —Thus answered Johnny in his glory,
  And that was all his travel's story.


Ginsberg , Allen

 | 

Howl

 For 
 Carl Solomon 


 I 

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by 
 madness, starving hysterical naked, 
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn 
 looking for an angry fix, 
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly 
 connection to the starry dynamo in the machin- 
 ery of night, 
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat 
 up smoking in the supernatural darkness of 
 cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities 
 contemplating jazz, 
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and 
 saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene- 
 ment roofs illuminated, 
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes 
 hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy 
 among the scholars of war, 
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & 
 publishing obscene odes on the windows of the 
 skull, 
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- 
 ing their money in wastebaskets and listening 
 to the Terror through the wall, 
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through 
 Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York, 
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in 
 Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their 
 torsos night after night 
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al- 
 cohol and cock and endless balls, 
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and 
 lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of 
 Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo- 
 tionless world of Time between, 
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery 
 dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, 
 storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon 
 blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree 
 vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook- 
 lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind, 
who chained themselves to subways for the endless 
 ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine 
 until the noise of wheels and children brought 
 them down shuddering mouth-wracked and 
 battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance 
 in the drear light of Zoo, 
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's 
 floated out and sat through the stale beer after 
 noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack 
 of doom on the hydrogen jukebox, 
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to 
 pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook- 
 lyn Bridge, 
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping 
 down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills 
 off Empire State out of the moon, 
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts 
 and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks 
 and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars, 
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days 
 and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the 
 Synagogue cast on the pavement, 
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a 
 trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic 
 City Hall, 
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind- 
 ings and migraines of China under junk-with- 
 drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room, 
who wandered around and around at midnight in the 
 railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, 
 leaving no broken hearts, 
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing 
 through snow toward lonesome farms in grand- 
 father night, 
who studied Plotinus Poe St.
John of the Cross telep- athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in- stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas, who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis- ionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels, who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy, who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla- homa on the impulse of winter midnight street light smalltown rain, who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa, who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire place Chicago, who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the F.
B.
I.
in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom- prehensible leaflets, who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism, who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed, who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons, who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication, who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu- scripts, who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy, who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love, who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose gardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whomever come who may, who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword, who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman's loom, who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can- dle and fell off the bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness, who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake, who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N.
C.
, secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver--joy to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses' rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet- ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too, who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out of basements hung over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy- ment offices, who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open to a room full of steamheat and opium, who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall be crowned with laurel in oblivion, who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery, who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music, who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts, who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology, who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish, who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom, who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg, who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next decade, who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess- fully, gave up and were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were growing old and cried, who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis- ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality, who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap- pened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer, who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas- saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears and the blast of colossal steam whistles, who barreled down the highways of the past journeying to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation, who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity, who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes, who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other's salvation and light and breasts, until the soul illuminated its hair for a second, who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for impossible criminals with golden heads and the charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet blues to Alcatraz, who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisychain or grave, who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp notism & were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung jury, who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism and subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in- stantaneous lobotomy, and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho- therapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia, who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia, returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East, Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock- ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night- mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon, with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book flung out of the tenement window, and the last door closed at 4.
A.
M.
and the last telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur- nished room emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination-- ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you're really in the total animal soup of time-- and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat- ing plane, who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intel- ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con- fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head, the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death, and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America's naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.
II What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi- nation? Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob tainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks! Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men! Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stun- ned governments! Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a canni- bal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb! Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose fac- tories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smokestacks and antennae crown the cities! Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind! Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch! Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky! Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible mad houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs! They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave- ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us! Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river! Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit! Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! De- spairs! Ten years' animal screams and suicides! Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time! Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street! III Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland where you're madder than I am I'm with you in Rockland where you must feel very strange I'm with you in Rockland where you imitate the shade of my mother I'm with you in Rockland where you've murdered your twelve secretaries I'm with you in Rockland where you laugh at this invisible humor I'm with you in Rockland where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter I'm with you in Rockland where your condition has become serious and is reported on the radio I'm with you in Rockland where the faculties of the skull no longer admit the worms of the senses I'm with you in Rockland where you drink the tea of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica I'm with you in Rockland where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the harpies of the Bronx I'm with you in Rockland where you scream in a straightjacket that you're losing the game of the actual pingpong of the abyss I'm with you in Rockland where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never die ungodly in an armed madhouse I'm with you in Rockland where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a cross in the void I'm with you in Rockland where you accuse your doctors of insanity and plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the fascist national Golgotha I'm with you in Rockland where you will split the heavens of Long Island and resurrect your living human Jesus from the superhuman tomb I'm with you in Rockland where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com- rades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale I'm with you in Rockland where we hug and kiss the United States under our bedsheets the United States that coughs all night and won't let us sleep I'm with you in Rockland where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls col- lapse O skinny legions run outside O starry spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we're free I'm with you in Rockland in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea- journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night San Francisco 1955-56


Shakespeare , William

 | 

Sonnet 29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
   For thy sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings
   That then I scorn to change my state with kings.


Angelou , Maya

 | 

Touched by An Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies old memories of pleasure ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity In the flush of love's light we dare be brave And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be.
Yet it is only love which sets us free.


Wilde , Oscar

 | 

HUMANITAD

 It is full winter now: the trees are bare,
Save where the cattle huddle from the cold
Beneath the pine, for it doth never wear
The autumn's gaudy livery whose gold
Her jealous brother pilfers, but is true
To the green doublet; bitter is the wind, as though it blew

From Saturn's cave; a few thin wisps of hay
Lie on the sharp black hedges, where the wain
Dragged the sweet pillage of a summer's day
From the low meadows up the narrow lane;
Upon the half-thawed snow the bleating sheep
Press close against the hurdles, and the shivering house-dogs creep

From the shut stable to the frozen stream
And back again disconsolate, and miss
The bawling shepherds and the noisy team;
And overhead in circling listlessness
The cawing rooks whirl round the frosted stack,
Or crowd the dripping boughs; and in the fen the ice-pools crack

Where the gaunt bittern stalks among the reeds
And flaps his wings, and stretches back his neck,
And hoots to see the moon; across the meads
Limps the poor frightened hare, a little speck;
And a stray seamew with its fretful cry
Flits like a sudden drift of snow against the dull grey sky.
Full winter: and the lusty goodman brings His load of faggots from the chilly byre, And stamps his feet upon the hearth, and flings The sappy billets on the waning fire, And laughs to see the sudden lightening scare His children at their play, and yet, - the spring is in the air; Already the slim crocus stirs the snow, And soon yon blanched fields will bloom again With nodding cowslips for some lad to mow, For with the first warm kisses of the rain The winter's icy sorrow breaks to tears, And the brown thrushes mate, and with bright eyes the rabbit peers From the dark warren where the fir-cones lie, And treads one snowdrop under foot, and runs Over the mossy knoll, and blackbirds fly Across our path at evening, and the suns Stay longer with us; ah! how good to see Grass-girdled spring in all her joy of laughing greenery Dance through the hedges till the early rose, (That sweet repentance of the thorny briar!) Burst from its sheathed emerald and disclose The little quivering disk of golden fire Which the bees know so well, for with it come Pale boy's-love, sops-in-wine, and daffadillies all in bloom.
Then up and down the field the sower goes, While close behind the laughing younker scares With shrilly whoop the black and thievish crows, And then the chestnut-tree its glory wears, And on the grass the creamy blossom falls In odorous excess, and faint half-whispered madrigals Steal from the bluebells' nodding carillons Each breezy morn, and then white jessamine, That star of its own heaven, snap-dragons With lolling crimson tongues, and eglantine In dusty velvets clad usurp the bed And woodland empery, and when the lingering rose hath shed Red leaf by leaf its folded panoply, And pansies closed their purple-lidded eyes, Chrysanthemums from gilded argosy Unload their gaudy scentless merchandise, And violets getting overbold withdraw From their shy nooks, and scarlet berries dot the leafless haw.
O happy field! and O thrice happy tree! Soon will your queen in daisy-flowered smock And crown of flower-de-luce trip down the lea, Soon will the lazy shepherds drive their flock Back to the pasture by the pool, and soon Through the green leaves will float the hum of murmuring bees at noon.
Soon will the glade be bright with bellamour, The flower which wantons love, and those sweet nuns Vale-lilies in their snowy vestiture Will tell their beaded pearls, and carnations With mitred dusky leaves will scent the wind, And straggling traveller's-joy each hedge with yellow stars will bind.
Dear bride of Nature and most bounteous spring, That canst give increase to the sweet-breath'd kine, And to the kid its little horns, and bring The soft and silky blossoms to the vine, Where is that old nepenthe which of yore Man got from poppy root and glossy-berried mandragore! There was a time when any common bird Could make me sing in unison, a time When all the strings of boyish life were stirred To quick response or more melodious rhyme By every forest idyll; - do I change? Or rather doth some evil thing through thy fair pleasaunce range? Nay, nay, thou art the same: 'tis I who seek To vex with sighs thy simple solitude, And because fruitless tears bedew my cheek Would have thee weep with me in brotherhood; Fool! shall each wronged and restless spirit dare To taint such wine with the salt poison of own despair! Thou art the same: 'tis I whose wretched soul Takes discontent to be its paramour, And gives its kingdom to the rude control Of what should be its servitor, - for sure Wisdom is somewhere, though the stormy sea Contain it not, and the huge deep answer ''Tis not in me.
' To burn with one clear flame, to stand erect In natural honour, not to bend the knee In profitless prostrations whose effect Is by itself condemned, what alchemy Can teach me this? what herb Medea brewed Will bring the unexultant peace of essence not subdued? The minor chord which ends the harmony, And for its answering brother waits in vain Sobbing for incompleted melody, Dies a swan's death; but I the heir of pain, A silent Memnon with blank lidless eyes, Wait for the light and music of those suns which never rise.
The quenched-out torch, the lonely cypress-gloom, The little dust stored in the narrow urn, The gentle XAIPE of the Attic tomb, - Were not these better far than to return To my old fitful restless malady, Or spend my days within the voiceless cave of misery? Nay! for perchance that poppy-crowned god Is like the watcher by a sick man's bed Who talks of sleep but gives it not; his rod Hath lost its virtue, and, when all is said, Death is too rude, too obvious a key To solve one single secret in a life's philosophy.
And Love! that noble madness, whose august And inextinguishable might can slay The soul with honeyed drugs, - alas! I must From such sweet ruin play the runaway, Although too constant memory never can Forget the arched splendour of those brows Olympian Which for a little season made my youth So soft a swoon of exquisite indolence That all the chiding of more prudent Truth Seemed the thin voice of jealousy, - O hence Thou huntress deadlier than Artemis! Go seek some other quarry! for of thy too perilous bliss.
My lips have drunk enough, - no more, no more, - Though Love himself should turn his gilded prow Back to the troubled waters of this shore Where I am wrecked and stranded, even now The chariot wheels of passion sweep too near, Hence! Hence! I pass unto a life more barren, more austere.
More barren - ay, those arms will never lean Down through the trellised vines and draw my soul In sweet reluctance through the tangled green; Some other head must wear that aureole, For I am hers who loves not any man Whose white and stainless bosom bears the sign Gorgonian.
Let Venus go and chuck her dainty page, And kiss his mouth, and toss his curly hair, With net and spear and hunting equipage Let young Adonis to his tryst repair, But me her fond and subtle-fashioned spell Delights no more, though I could win her dearest citadel.
Ay, though I were that laughing shepherd boy Who from Mount Ida saw the little cloud Pass over Tenedos and lofty Troy And knew the coming of the Queen, and bowed In wonder at her feet, not for the sake Of a new Helen would I bid her hand the apple take.
Then rise supreme Athena argent-limbed! And, if my lips be musicless, inspire At least my life: was not thy glory hymned By One who gave to thee his sword and lyre Like AEschylos at well-fought Marathon, And died to show that Milton's England still could bear a son! And yet I cannot tread the Portico And live without desire, fear and pain, Or nurture that wise calm which long ago The grave Athenian master taught to men, Self-poised, self-centred, and self-comforted, To watch the world's vain phantasies go by with unbowed head.
Alas! that serene brow, those eloquent lips, Those eyes that mirrored all eternity, Rest in their own Colonos, an eclipse Hath come on Wisdom, and Mnemosyne Is childless; in the night which she had made For lofty secure flight Athena's owl itself hath strayed.
Nor much with Science do I care to climb, Although by strange and subtle witchery She drew the moon from heaven: the Muse Time Unrolls her gorgeous-coloured tapestry To no less eager eyes; often indeed In the great epic of Polymnia's scroll I love to read How Asia sent her myriad hosts to war Against a little town, and panoplied In gilded mail with jewelled scimitar, White-shielded, purple-crested, rode the Mede Between the waving poplars and the sea Which men call Artemisium, till he saw Thermopylae Its steep ravine spanned by a narrow wall, And on the nearer side a little brood Of careless lions holding festival! And stood amazed at such hardihood, And pitched his tent upon the reedy shore, And stayed two days to wonder, and then crept at midnight o'er Some unfrequented height, and coming down The autumn forests treacherously slew What Sparta held most dear and was the crown Of far Eurotas, and passed on, nor knew How God had staked an evil net for him In the small bay at Salamis, - and yet, the page grows dim, Its cadenced Greek delights me not, I feel With such a goodly time too out of tune To love it much: for like the Dial's wheel That from its blinded darkness strikes the noon Yet never sees the sun, so do my eyes Restlessly follow that which from my cheated vision flies.
O for one grand unselfish simple life To teach us what is Wisdom! speak ye hills Of lone Helvellyn, for this note of strife Shunned your untroubled crags and crystal rills, Where is that Spirit which living blamelessly Yet dared to kiss the smitten mouth of his own century! Speak ye Rydalian laurels! where is he Whose gentle head ye sheltered, that pure soul Whose gracious days of uncrowned majesty Through lowliest conduct touched the lofty goal Where love and duty mingle! Him at least The most high Laws were glad of, he had sat at Wisdom's feast; But we are Learning's changelings, know by rote The clarion watchword of each Grecian school And follow none, the flawless sword which smote The pagan Hydra is an effete tool Which we ourselves have blunted, what man now Shall scale the august ancient heights and to old Reverence bow? One such indeed I saw, but, Ichabod! Gone is that last dear son of Italy, Who being man died for the sake of God, And whose unrisen bones sleep peacefully, O guard him, guard him well, my Giotto's tower, Thou marble lily of the lily town! let not the lour Of the rude tempest vex his slumber, or The Arno with its tawny troubled gold O'er-leap its marge, no mightier conqueror Clomb the high Capitol in the days of old When Rome was indeed Rome, for Liberty Walked like a bride beside him, at which sight pale Mystery Fled shrieking to her farthest sombrest cell With an old man who grabbled rusty keys, Fled shuddering, for that immemorial knell With which oblivion buries dynasties Swept like a wounded eagle on the blast, As to the holy heart of Rome the great triumvir passed.
He knew the holiest heart and heights of Rome, He drave the base wolf from the lion's lair, And now lies dead by that empyreal dome Which overtops Valdarno hung in air By Brunelleschi - O Melpomene Breathe through thy melancholy pipe thy sweetest threnody! Breathe through the tragic stops such melodies That Joy's self may grow jealous, and the Nine Forget awhile their discreet emperies, Mourning for him who on Rome's lordliest shrine Lit for men's lives the light of Marathon, And bare to sun-forgotten fields the fire of the sun! O guard him, guard him well, my Giotto's tower! Let some young Florentine each eventide Bring coronals of that enchanted flower Which the dim woods of Vallombrosa hide, And deck the marble tomb wherein he lies Whose soul is as some mighty orb unseen of mortal eyes; Some mighty orb whose cycled wanderings, Being tempest-driven to the farthest rim Where Chaos meets Creation and the wings Of the eternal chanting Cherubim Are pavilioned on Nothing, passed away Into a moonless void, - and yet, though he is dust and clay, He is not dead, the immemorial Fates Forbid it, and the closing shears refrain.
Lift up your heads ye everlasting gates! Ye argent clarions, sound a loftier strain For the vile thing he hated lurks within Its sombre house, alone with God and memories of sin.
Still what avails it that she sought her cave That murderous mother of red harlotries? At Munich on the marble architrave The Grecian boys die smiling, but the seas Which wash AEgina fret in loneliness Not mirroring their beauty; so our lives grow colourless For lack of our ideals, if one star Flame torch-like in the heavens the unjust Swift daylight kills it, and no trump of war Can wake to passionate voice the silent dust Which was Mazzini once! rich Niobe For all her stony sorrows hath her sons; but Italy, What Easter Day shall make her children rise, Who were not Gods yet suffered? what sure feet Shall find their grave-clothes folded? what clear eyes Shall see them bodily? O it were meet To roll the stone from off the sepulchre And kiss the bleeding roses of their wounds, in love of her, Our Italy! our mother visible! Most blessed among nations and most sad, For whose dear sake the young Calabrian fell That day at Aspromonte and was glad That in an age when God was bought and sold One man could die for Liberty! but we, burnt out and cold, See Honour smitten on the cheek and gyves Bind the sweet feet of Mercy: Poverty Creeps through our sunless lanes and with sharp knives Cuts the warm throats of children stealthily, And no word said:- O we are wretched men Unworthy of our great inheritance! where is the pen Of austere Milton? where the mighty sword Which slew its master righteously? the years Have lost their ancient leader, and no word Breaks from the voiceless tripod on our ears: While as a ruined mother in some spasm Bears a base child and loathes it, so our best enthusiasm Genders unlawful children, Anarchy Freedom's own Judas, the vile prodigal Licence who steals the gold of Liberty And yet has nothing, Ignorance the real One Fraticide since Cain, Envy the asp That stings itself to anguish, Avarice whose palsied grasp Is in its extent stiffened, moneyed Greed For whose dull appetite men waste away Amid the whirr of wheels and are the seed Of things which slay their sower, these each day Sees rife in England, and the gentle feet Of Beauty tread no more the stones of each unlovely street.
What even Cromwell spared is desecrated By weed and worm, left to the stormy play Of wind and beating snow, or renovated By more destructful hands: Time's worst decay Will wreathe its ruins with some loveliness, But these new Vandals can but make a rain-proof barrenness.
Where is that Art which bade the Angels sing Through Lincoln's lofty choir, till the air Seems from such marble harmonies to ring With sweeter song than common lips can dare To draw from actual reed? ah! where is now The cunning hand which made the flowering hawthorn branches bow For Southwell's arch, and carved the House of One Who loved the lilies of the field with all Our dearest English flowers? the same sun Rises for us: the seasons natural Weave the same tapestry of green and grey: The unchanged hills are with us: but that Spirit hath passed away.
And yet perchance it may be better so, For Tyranny is an incestuous Queen, Murder her brother is her bedfellow, And the Plague chambers with her: in obscene And bloody paths her treacherous feet are set; Better the empty desert and a soul inviolate! For gentle brotherhood, the harmony Of living in the healthful air, the swift Clean beauty of strong limbs when men are free And women chaste, these are the things which lift Our souls up more than even Agnolo's Gaunt blinded Sibyl poring o'er the scroll of human woes, Or Titian's little maiden on the stair White as her own sweet lily and as tall, Or Mona Lisa smiling through her hair, - Ah! somehow life is bigger after all Than any painted angel, could we see The God that is within us! The old Greek serenity Which curbs the passion of that level line Of marble youths, who with untroubled eyes And chastened limbs ride round Athena's shrine And mirror her divine economies, And balanced symmetry of what in man Would else wage ceaseless warfare, - this at least within the span Between our mother's kisses and the grave Might so inform our lives, that we could win Such mighty empires that from her cave Temptation would grow hoarse, and pallid Sin Would walk ashamed of his adulteries, And Passion creep from out the House of Lust with startled eyes.
To make the body and the spirit one With all right things, till no thing live in vain From morn to noon, but in sweet unison With every pulse of flesh and throb of brain The soul in flawless essence high enthroned, Against all outer vain attack invincibly bastioned, Mark with serene impartiality The strife of things, and yet be comforted, Knowing that by the chain causality All separate existences are wed Into one supreme whole, whose utterance Is joy, or holier praise! ah! surely this were governance Of Life in most august omnipresence, Through which the rational intellect would find In passion its expression, and mere sense, Ignoble else, lend fire to the mind, And being joined with it in harmony More mystical than that which binds the stars planetary, Strike from their several tones one octave chord Whose cadence being measureless would fly Through all the circling spheres, then to its Lord Return refreshed with its new empery And more exultant power, - this indeed Could we but reach it were to find the last, the perfect creed.
Ah! it was easy when the world was young To keep one's life free and inviolate, From our sad lips another song is rung, By our own hands our heads are desecrate, Wanderers in drear exile, and dispossessed Of what should be our own, we can but feed on wild unrest.
Somehow the grace, the bloom of things has flown, And of all men we are most wretched who Must live each other's lives and not our own For very pity's sake and then undo All that we lived for - it was otherwise When soul and body seemed to blend in mystic symphonies.
But we have left those gentle haunts to pass With weary feet to the new Calvary, Where we behold, as one who in a glass Sees his own face, self-slain Humanity, And in the dumb reproach of that sad gaze Learn what an awful phantom the red hand of man can raise.
O smitten mouth! O forehead crowned with thorn! O chalice of all common miseries! Thou for our sakes that loved thee not hast borne An agony of endless centuries, And we were vain and ignorant nor knew That when we stabbed thy heart it was our own real hearts we slew.
Being ourselves the sowers and the seeds, The night that covers and the lights that fade, The spear that pierces and the side that bleeds, The lips betraying and the life betrayed; The deep hath calm: the moon hath rest: but we Lords of the natural world are yet our own dread enemy.
Is this the end of all that primal force Which, in its changes being still the same, From eyeless Chaos cleft its upward course, Through ravenous seas and whirling rocks and flame, Till the suns met in heaven and began Their cycles, and the morning stars sang, and the Word was Man! Nay, nay, we are but crucified, and though The bloody sweat falls from our brows like rain Loosen the nails - we shall come down I know, Staunch the red wounds - we shall be whole again, No need have we of hyssop-laden rod, That which is purely human, that is godlike, that is God.


Yeats , William Butler

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When You are Old

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep 
And nodding by the fire, take down this book, 
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look 
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; 

How many loved your moments of glad grace, 
And loved your beauty with love false or true; 
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, 
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
And bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled And paced upon the mountains overhead, And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


Blake , William

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Loves Secret

NEVER seek to tell thy love  
Love that never told can be; 
For the gentle wind doth move 
Silently invisibly.
I told my love I told my love 5 I told her all my heart Trembling cold in ghastly fears.
Ah! she did depart! Soon after she was gone from me A traveller came by 10 Silently invisibly: He took her with a sigh.


Chesterton , G K

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The Ballad of the White Horse

 DEDICATION 

Of great limbs gone to chaos,
A great face turned to night--
Why bend above a shapeless shroud
Seeking in such archaic cloud
Sight of strong lords and light?

Where seven sunken Englands
Lie buried one by one,
Why should one idle spade, I wonder,
Shake up the dust of thanes like thunder
To smoke and choke the sun?

In cloud of clay so cast to heaven
What shape shall man discern?
These lords may light the mystery
Of mastery or victory,
And these ride high in history,
But these shall not return.
Gored on the Norman gonfalon The Golden Dragon died: We shall not wake with ballad strings The good time of the smaller things, We shall not see the holy kings Ride down by Severn side.
Stiff, strange, and quaintly coloured As the broidery of Bayeux The England of that dawn remains, And this of Alfred and the Danes Seems like the tales a whole tribe feigns Too English to be true.
Of a good king on an island That ruled once on a time; And as he walked by an apple tree There came green devils out of the sea With sea-plants trailing heavily And tracks of opal slime.
Yet Alfred is no fairy tale; His days as our days ran, He also looked forth for an hour On peopled plains and skies that lower, From those few windows in the tower That is the head of a man.
But who shall look from Alfred's hood Or breathe his breath alive? His century like a small dark cloud Drifts far; it is an eyeless crowd, Where the tortured trumpets scream aloud And the dense arrows drive.
Lady, by one light only We look from Alfred's eyes, We know he saw athwart the wreck The sign that hangs about your neck, Where One more than Melchizedek Is dead and never dies.
Therefore I bring these rhymes to you Who brought the cross to me, Since on you flaming without flaw I saw the sign that Guthrum saw When he let break his ships of awe, And laid peace on the sea.
Do you remember when we went Under a dragon moon, And `mid volcanic tints of night Walked where they fought the unknown fight And saw black trees on the battle-height, Black thorn on Ethandune? And I thought, "I will go with you, As man with God has gone, And wander with a wandering star, The wandering heart of things that are, The fiery cross of love and war That like yourself, goes on.
" O go you onward; where you are Shall honour and laughter be, Past purpled forest and pearled foam, God's winged pavilion free to roam, Your face, that is a wandering home, A flying home for me.
Ride through the silent earthquake lands, Wide as a waste is wide, Across these days like deserts, when Pride and a little scratching pen Have dried and split the hearts of men, Heart of the heroes, ride.
Up through an empty house of stars, Being what heart you are, Up the inhuman steeps of space As on a staircase go in grace, Carrying the firelight on your face Beyond the loneliest star.
Take these; in memory of the hour We strayed a space from home And saw the smoke-hued hamlets, quaint With Westland king and Westland saint, And watched the western glory faint Along the road to Frome.
BOOK I THE VISION OF THE KING Before the gods that made the gods Had seen their sunrise pass, The White Horse of the White Horse Vale Was cut out of the grass.
Before the gods that made the gods Had drunk at dawn their fill, The White Horse of the White Horse Vale Was hoary on the hill.
Age beyond age on British land, Aeons on aeons gone, Was peace and war in western hills, And the White Horse looked on.
For the White Horse knew England When there was none to know; He saw the first oar break or bend, He saw heaven fall and the world end, O God, how long ago.
For the end of the world was long ago, And all we dwell to-day As children of some second birth, Like a strange people left on earth After a judgment day.
For the end of the world was long ago, When the ends of the world waxed free, When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves, And the sun drowned in the sea.
When Caesar's sun fell out of the sky And whoso hearkened right Could only hear the plunging Of the nations in the night.
When the ends of the earth came marching in To torch and cresset gleam.
And the roads of the world that lead to Rome Were filled with faces that moved like foam, Like faces in a dream.
And men rode out of the eastern lands, Broad river and burning plain; Trees that are Titan flowers to see, And tiger skies, striped horribly, With tints of tropic rain.
Where Ind's enamelled peaks arise Around that inmost one, Where ancient eagles on its brink, Vast as archangels, gather and drink The sacrament of the sun.
And men brake out of the northern lands, Enormous lands alone, Where a spell is laid upon life and lust And the rain is changed to a silver dust And the sea to a great green stone.
And a Shape that moveth murkily In mirrors of ice and night, Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds, As death and a shock of evil words Blast a man's hair with white.
And the cry of the palms and the purple moons, Or the cry of the frost and foam, Swept ever around an inmost place, And the din of distant race on race Cried and replied round Rome.
And there was death on the Emperor And night upon the Pope: And Alfred, hiding in deep grass, Hardened his heart with hope.
A sea-folk blinder than the sea Broke all about his land, But Alfred up against them bare And gripped the ground and grasped the air, Staggered, and strove to stand.
He bent them back with spear and spade, With desperate dyke and wall, With foemen leaning on his shield And roaring on him when he reeled; And no help came at all.
He broke them with a broken sword A little towards the sea, And for one hour of panting peace, Ringed with a roar that would not cease, With golden crown and girded fleece Made laws under a tree.
The Northmen came about our land A Christless chivalry: Who knew not of the arch or pen, Great, beautiful half-witted men From the sunrise and the sea.
Misshapen ships stood on the deep Full of strange gold and fire, And hairy men, as huge as sin With horned heads, came wading in Through the long, low sea-mire.
Our towns were shaken of tall kings With scarlet beards like blood: The world turned empty where they trod, They took the kindly cross of God And cut it up for wood.
Their souls were drifting as the sea, And all good towns and lands They only saw with heavy eyes, And broke with heavy hands, Their gods were sadder than the sea, Gods of a wandering will, Who cried for blood like beasts at night, Sadly, from hill to hill.
They seemed as trees walking the earth, As witless and as tall, Yet they took hold upon the heavens And no help came at all.
They bred like birds in English woods, They rooted like the rose, When Alfred came to Athelney To hide him from their bows There was not English armour left, Nor any English thing, When Alfred came to Athelney To be an English king.
For earthquake swallowing earthquake Uprent the Wessex tree; The whirlpool of the pagan sway Had swirled his sires as sticks away When a flood smites the sea.
And the great kings of Wessex Wearied and sank in gore, And even their ghosts in that great stress Grew greyer and greyer, less and less, With the lords that died in Lyonesse And the king that comes no more.
And the God of the Golden Dragon Was dumb upon his throne, And the lord of the Golden Dragon Ran in the woods alone.
And if ever he climbed the crest of luck And set the flag before, Returning as a wheel returns, Came ruin and the rain that burns, And all began once more.
And naught was left King Alfred But shameful tears of rage, In the island in the river In the end of all his age.
In the island in the river He was broken to his knee: And he read, writ with an iron pen, That God had wearied of Wessex men And given their country, field and fen, To the devils of the sea.
And he saw in a little picture, Tiny and far away, His mother sitting in Egbert's hall, And a book she showed him, very small, Where a sapphire Mary sat in stall With a golden Christ at play.
It was wrought in the monk's slow manner, From silver and sanguine shell, Where the scenes are little and terrible, Keyholes of heaven and hell.
In the river island of Athelney, With the river running past, In colours of such simple creed All things sprang at him, sun and weed, Till the grass grew to be grass indeed And the tree was a tree at last.
Fearfully plain the flowers grew, Like the child's book to read, Or like a friend's face seen in a glass; He looked; and there Our Lady was, She stood and stroked the tall live grass As a man strokes his steed.
Her face was like an open word When brave men speak and choose, The very colours of her coat Were better than good news.
She spoke not, nor turned not, Nor any sign she cast, Only she stood up straight and free, Between the flowers in Athelney, And the river running past.
One dim ancestral jewel hung On his ruined armour grey, He rent and cast it at her feet: Where, after centuries, with slow feet, Men came from hall and school and street And found it where it lay.
"Mother of God," the wanderer said, "I am but a common king, Nor will I ask what saints may ask, To see a secret thing.
"The gates of heaven are fearful gates Worse than the gates of hell; Not I would break the splendours barred Or seek to know the thing they guard, Which is too good to tell.
"But for this earth most pitiful, This little land I know, If that which is for ever is, Or if our hearts shall break with bliss, Seeing the stranger go? "When our last bow is broken, Queen, And our last javelin cast, Under some sad, green evening sky, Holding a ruined cross on high, Under warm westland grass to lie, Shall we come home at last?" And a voice came human but high up, Like a cottage climbed among The clouds; or a serf of hut and croft That sits by his hovel fire as oft, But hears on his old bare roof aloft A belfry burst in song.
"The gates of heaven are lightly locked, We do not guard our gain, The heaviest hind may easily Come silently and suddenly Upon me in a lane.
"And any little maid that walks In good thoughts apart, May break the guard of the Three Kings And see the dear and dreadful things I hid within my heart.
"The meanest man in grey fields gone Behind the set of sun, Heareth between star and other star, Through the door of the darkness fallen ajar, The council, eldest of things that are, The talk of the Three in One.
"The gates of heaven are lightly locked, We do not guard our gold, Men may uproot where worlds begin, Or read the name of the nameless sin; But if he fail or if he win To no good man is told.
"The men of the East may spell the stars, And times and triumphs mark, But the men signed of the cross of Christ Go gaily in the dark.
"The men of the East may search the scrolls For sure fates and fame, But the men that drink the blood of God Go singing to their shame.
"The wise men know what wicked things Are written on the sky, They trim sad lamps, they touch sad strings, Hearing the heavy purple wings, Where the forgotten seraph kings Still plot how God shall die.
"The wise men know all evil things Under the twisted trees, Where the perverse in pleasure pine And men are weary of green wine And sick of crimson seas.
"But you and all the kind of Christ Are ignorant and brave, And you have wars you hardly win And souls you hardly save.
"I tell you naught for your comfort, Yea, naught for your desire, Save that the sky grows darker yet And the sea rises higher.
"Night shall be thrice night over you, And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause, Yea, faith without a hope?" Even as she spoke she was not, Nor any word said he, He only heard, still as he stood Under the old night's nodding hood, The sea-folk breaking down the wood Like a high tide from sea.
He only heard the heathen men, Whose eyes are blue and bleak, Singing about some cruel thing Done by a great and smiling king In daylight on a deck.
He only heard the heathen men, Whose eyes are blue and blind, Singing what shameful things are done Between the sunlit sea and the sun When the land is left behind.
BOOK II THE GATHERING OF THE CHIEFS Up across windy wastes and up Went Alfred over the shaws, Shaken of the joy of giants, The joy without a cause.
In the slopes away to the western bays, Where blows not ever a tree, He washed his soul in the west wind And his body in the sea.
And he set to rhyme his ale-measures, And he sang aloud his laws, Because of the joy of the giants, The joy without a cause.
The King went gathering Wessex men, As grain out of the chaff The few that were alive to die, Laughing, as littered skulls that lie After lost battles turn to the sky An everlasting laugh.
The King went gathering Christian men, As wheat out of the husk; Eldred, the Franklin by the sea, And Mark, the man from Italy, And Colan of the Sacred Tree, From the old tribe on Usk.
The rook croaked homeward heavily, The west was clear and warm, The smoke of evening food and ease Rose like a blue tree in the trees When he came to Eldred's farm.
But Eldred's farm was fallen awry, Like an old cripple's bones, And Eldred's tools were red with rust, And on his well was a green crust, And purple thistles upward thrust, Between the kitchen stones.
But smoke of some good feasting Went upwards evermore, And Eldred's doors stood wide apart For loitering foot or labouring cart, And Eldred's great and foolish heart Stood open like his door.
A mighty man was Eldred, A bulk for casks to fill, His face a dreaming furnace, His body a walking hill.
In the old wars of Wessex His sword had sunken deep, But all his friends, he signed and said, Were broken about Ethelred; And between the deep drink and the dead He had fallen upon sleep.
"Come not to me, King Alfred, Save always for the ale: Why should my harmless hinds be slain Because the chiefs cry once again, As in all fights, that we shall gain, And in all fights we fail? "Your scalds still thunder and prophesy That crown that never comes; Friend, I will watch the certain things, Swine, and slow moons like silver rings, And the ripening of the plums.
" And Alfred answered, drinking, And gravely, without blame, "Nor bear I boast of scald or king, The thing I bear is a lesser thing, But comes in a better name.
"Out of the mouth of the Mother of God, More than the doors of doom, I call the muster of Wessex men From grassy hamlet or ditch or den, To break and be broken, God knows when, But I have seen for whom.
Out of the mouth of the Mother of God Like a little word come I; For I go gathering Christian men From sunken paving and ford and fen, To die in a battle, God knows when, By God, but I know why.
"And this is the word of Mary, The word of the world's desire `No more of comfort shall ye get, Save that the sky grows darker yet And the sea rises higher.
' " Then silence sank.
And slowly Arose the sea-land lord, Like some vast beast for mystery, He filled the room and porch and sky, And from a cobwebbed nail on high Unhooked his heavy sword.
Up on the shrill sea-downs and up Went Alfred all alone, Turning but once e'er the door was shut, Shouting to Eldred over his butt, That he bring all spears to the woodman's hut Hewn under Egbert's Stone.
And he turned his back and broke the fern, And fought the moths of dusk, And went on his way for other friends Friends fallen of all the wide world's ends, From Rome that wrath and pardon sends And the grey tribes on Usk.
He saw gigantic tracks of death And many a shape of doom, Good steadings to grey ashes gone And a monk's house white like a skeleton In the green crypt of the combe.
And in many a Roman villa Earth and her ivies eat, Saw coloured pavements sink and fade In flowers, and the windy colonnade Like the spectre of a street.
But the cold stars clustered Among the cold pines Ere he was half on his pilgrimage Over the western lines.
And the white dawn widened Ere he came to the last pine, Where Mark, the man from Italy, Still made the Christian sign.
The long farm lay on the large hill-side, Flat like a painted plan, And by the side the low white house, Where dwelt the southland man.
A bronzed man, with a bird's bright eye, And a strong bird's beak and brow, His skin was brown like buried gold, And of certain of his sires was told That they came in the shining ship of old, With Caesar in the prow.
His fruit trees stood like soldiers Drilled in a straight line, His strange, stiff olives did not fail, And all the kings of the earth drank ale, But he drank wine.
Wide over wasted British plains Stood never an arch or dome, Only the trees to toss and reel, The tribes to bicker, the beasts to squeal; But the eyes in his head were strong like steel, And his soul remembered Rome.
Then Alfred of the lonely spear Lifted his lion head; And fronted with the Italian's eye, Asking him of his whence and why, King Alfred stood and said: "I am that oft-defeated King Whose failure fills the land, Who fled before the Danes of old, Who chaffered with the Danes with gold, Who now upon the Wessex wold Hardly has feet to stand.
"But out of the mouth of the Mother of God I have seen the truth like fire, This--that the sky grows darker yet And the sea rises higher.
" Long looked the Roman on the land; The trees as golden crowns Blazed, drenched with dawn and dew-empearled While faintlier coloured, freshlier curled, The clouds from underneath the world Stood up over the downs.
"These vines be ropes that drag me hard," He said.
"I go not far; Where would you meet? For you must hold Half Wiltshire and the White Horse wold, And the Thames bank to Owsenfold, If Wessex goes to war.
"Guthrum sits strong on either bank And you must press his lines Inwards, and eastward drive him down; I doubt if you shall take the crown Till you have taken London town.
For me, I have the vines.
" "If each man on the Judgment Day Meet God on a plain alone," Said Alfred, "I will speak for you As for myself, and call it true That you brought all fighting folk you knew Lined under Egbert's Stone.
"Though I be in the dust ere then, I know where you will be.
" And shouldering suddenly his spear He faded like some elfin fear, Where the tall pines ran up, tier on tier Tree overtoppling tree.
He shouldered his spear at morning And laughed to lay it on, But he leaned on his spear as on a staff, With might and little mood to laugh, Or ever he sighted chick or calf Of Colan of Caerleon.
For the man dwelt in a lost land Of boulders and broken men, In a great grey cave far off to the south Where a thick green forest stopped the mouth, Giving darkness in his den.
And the man was come like a shadow, From the shadow of Druid trees, Where Usk, with mighty murmurings, Past Caerleon of the fallen kings, Goes out to ghostly seas.
Last of a race in ruin-- He spoke the speech of the Gaels; His kin were in holy Ireland, Or up in the crags of Wales.
But his soul stood with his mother's folk, That were of the rain-wrapped isle, Where Patrick and Brandan westerly Looked out at last on a landless sea And the sun's last smile.
His harp was carved and cunning, As the Celtic craftsman makes, Graven all over with twisting shapes Like many headless snakes.
His harp was carved and cunning, His sword prompt and sharp, And he was gay when he held the sword, Sad when he held the harp.
For the great Gaels of Ireland Are the men that God made mad, For all their wars are merry, And all their songs are sad.
He kept the Roman order, He made the Christian sign; But his eyes grew often blind and bright, And the sea that rose in the rocks at night Rose to his head like wine.
He made the sign of the cross of God, He knew the Roman prayer, But he had unreason in his heart Because of the gods that were.
Even they that walked on the high cliffs, High as the clouds were then, Gods of unbearable beauty, That broke the hearts of men.
And whether in seat or saddle, Whether with frown or smile, Whether at feast or fight was he, He heard the noise of a nameless sea On an undiscovered isle.
Lifting the great green ivy And the great spear lowering, One said, "I am Alfred of Wessex, And I am a conquered king.
" And the man of the cave made answer, And his eyes were stars of scorn, "And better kings were conquered Or ever your sires were born.
"What goddess was your mother, What fay your breed begot, That you should not die with Uther And Arthur and Lancelot? "But when you win you brag and blow, And when you lose you rail, Army of eastland yokels Not strong enough to fail.
" "I bring not boast or railing," Spake Alfred not in ire, "I bring of Our Lady a lesson set, This--that the sky grows darker yet And the sea rises higher.
" Then Colan of the Sacred Tree Tossed his black mane on high, And cried, as rigidly he rose, "And if the sea and sky be foes, We will tame the sea and sky.
" Smiled Alfred, "Seek ye a fable More dizzy and more dread Than all your mad barbarian tales Where the sky stands on its head ? "A tale where a man looks down on the sky That has long looked down on him; A tale where a man can swallow a sea That might swallow the seraphim.
"Bring to the hut by Egbert's Stone All bills and bows ye have.
" And Alfred strode off rapidly, And Colan of the Sacred Tree Went slowly to his cave.
BOOK III THE HARP OF ALFRED In a tree that yawned and twisted The King's few goods were flung, A mass-book mildewed, line by line, And weapons and a skin of wine, And an old harp unstrung.
By the yawning tree in the twilight The King unbound his sword, Severed the harp of all his goods, And there in the cool and soundless woods Sounded a single chord.
Then laughed; and watched the finches flash, The sullen flies in swarm, And went unarmed over the hills, With the harp upon his arm, Until he came to the White Horse Vale And saw across the plains, In the twilight high and far and fell, Like the fiery terraces of hell, The camp fires of the Danes-- The fires of the Great Army That was made of iron men, Whose lights of sacrilege and scorn Ran around England red as morn, Fires over Glastonbury Thorn-- Fires out on Ely Fen.
And as he went by White Horse Vale He saw lie wan and wide The old horse graven, God knows when, By gods or beasts or what things then Walked a new world instead of men And scrawled on the hill-side.
And when he came to White Horse Down The great White Horse was grey, For it was ill scoured of the weed, And lichen and thorn could crawl and feed, Since the foes of settled house and creed Had swept old works away.
King Alfred gazed all sorrowful At thistle and mosses grey, Then laughed; and watched the finches flash, Till a rally of Danes with shield and bill Rolled drunk over the dome of the hill, And, hearing of his harp and skill, They dragged him to their play.
And as they went through the high green grass They roared like the great green sea; But when they came to the red camp fire They were silent suddenly.
And as they went up the wastes away They went reeling to and fro; But when they came to the red camp fire They stood all in a row.
For golden in the firelight, With a smile carved on his lips, And a beard curled right cunningly, Was Guthrum of the Northern Sea, The emperor of the ships-- With three great earls King Guthrum Went the rounds from fire to fire, With Harold, nephew of the King, And Ogier of the Stone and Sling, And Elf, whose gold lute had a string That sighed like all desire.
The Earls of the Great Army That no men born could tire, Whose flames anear him or aloof Took hold of towers or walls of proof, Fire over Glastonbury roof And out on Ely, fire.
And Guthrum heard the soldiers' tale And bade the stranger play; Not harshly, but as one on high, On a marble pillar in the sky, Who sees all folk that live and die-- Pigmy and far away.
And Alfred, King of Wessex, Looked on his conqueror-- And his hands hardened; but he played, And leaving all later hates unsaid, He sang of some old British raid On the wild west march of yore.
He sang of war in the warm wet shires, Where rain nor fruitage fails, Where England of the motley states Deepens like a garden to the gates In the purple walls of Wales.
He sang of the seas of savage heads And the seas and seas of spears, Boiling all over Offa's Dyke, What time a Wessex club could strike The kings of the mountaineers.
Till Harold laughed and snatched the harp, The kinsman of the King, A big youth, beardless like a child, Whom the new wine of war sent wild, Smote, and began to sing-- And he cried of the ships as eagles That circle fiercely and fly, And sweep the seas and strike the towns From Cyprus round to Skye.
How swiftly and with peril They gather all good things, The high horns of the forest beasts, Or the secret stones of kings.
"For Rome was given to rule the world, And gat of it little joy-- But we, but we shall enjoy the world, The whole huge world a toy.
"Great wine like blood from Burgundy, Cloaks like the clouds from Tyre, And marble like solid moonlight, And gold like frozen fire.
"Smells that a man might swill in a cup, Stones that a man might eat, And the great smooth women like ivory That the Turks sell in the street.
" He sang the song of the thief of the world, And the gods that love the thief; And he yelled aloud at the cloister-yards, Where men go gathering grief.
"Well have you sung, O stranger, Of death on the dyke in Wales, Your chief was a bracelet-giver; But the red unbroken river Of a race runs not for ever, But suddenly it fails.
"Doubtless your sires were sword-swingers When they waded fresh from foam, Before they were turned to women By the god of the nails from Rome; "But since you bent to the shaven men, Who neither lust nor smite, Thunder of Thor, we hunt you A hare on the mountain height.
" King Guthrum smiled a little, And said, "It is enough, Nephew, let Elf retune the string; A boy must needs like bellowing, But the old ears of a careful king Are glad of songs less rough.
" Blue-eyed was Elf the minstrel, With womanish hair and ring, Yet heavy was his hand on sword, Though light upon the string.
And as he stirred the strings of the harp To notes but four or five, The heart of each man moved in him Like a babe buried alive.
And they felt the land of the folk-songs Spread southward of the Dane, And they heard the good Rhine flowing In the heart of all Allemagne.
They felt the land of the folk-songs, Where the gifts hang on the tree, Where the girls give ale at morning And the tears come easily.
The mighty people, womanlike, That have pleasure in their pain As he sang of Balder beautiful, Whom the heavens loved in vain.
As he sang of Balder beautiful, Whom the heavens could not save, Till the world was like a sea of tears And every soul a wave.
"There is always a thing forgotten When all the world goes well; A thing forgotten, as long ago, When the gods forgot the mistletoe, And soundless as an arrow of snow The arrow of anguish fell.
"The thing on the blind side of the heart, On the wrong side of the door, The green plant groweth, menacing Almighty lovers in the spring; There is always a forgotten thing, And love is not secure.
" And all that sat by the fire were sad, Save Ogier, who was stern, And his eyes hardened, even to stones, As he took the harp in turn; Earl Ogier of the Stone and Sling Was odd to ear and sight, Old he was, but his locks were red, And jests were all the words he said Yet he was sad at board and bed And savage in the fight.
"You sing of the young gods easily In the days when you are young; But I go smelling yew and sods, And I know there are gods behind the gods, Gods that are best unsung.
"And a man grows ugly for women, And a man grows dull with ale, Well if he find in his soul at last Fury, that does not fail.
"The wrath of the gods behind the gods Who would rend all gods and men, Well if the old man's heart hath still Wheels sped of rage and roaring will, Like cataracts to break down and kill, Well for the old man then-- "While there is one tall shrine to shake, Or one live man to rend; For the wrath of the gods behind the gods Who are weary to make an end.
"There lives one moment for a man When the door at his shoulder shakes, When the taut rope parts under the pull, And the barest branch is beautiful One moment, while it breaks.
"So rides my soul upon the sea That drinks the howling ships, Though in black jest it bows and nods Under the moons with silver rods, I know it is roaring at the gods, Waiting the last eclipse.
"And in the last eclipse the sea Shall stand up like a tower, Above all moons made dark and riven, Hold up its foaming head in heaven, And laugh, knowing its hour.
"And the high ones in the happy town Propped of the planets seven, Shall know a new light in the mind, A noise about them and behind, Shall hear an awful voice, and find Foam in the courts of heaven.
"And you that sit by the fire are young, And true love waits for you; But the king and I grow old, grow old, And hate alone is true.
" And Guthrum shook his head but smiled, For he was a mighty clerk, And had read lines in the Latin books When all the north was dark.
He said, "I am older than you, Ogier; Not all things would I rend, For whether life be bad or good It is best to abide the end.
" He took the great harp wearily, Even Guthrum of the Danes, With wide eyes bright as the one long day On the long polar plains.
For he sang of a wheel returning, And the mire trod back to mire, And how red hells and golden heavens Are castles in the fire.
"It is good to sit where the good tales go, To sit as our fathers sat; But the hour shall come after his youth, When a man shall know not tales but truth, And his heart fail thereat.
"When he shall read what is written So plain in clouds and clods, When he shall hunger without hope Even for evil gods.
"For this is a heavy matter, And the truth is cold to tell; Do we not know, have we not heard, The soul is like a lost bird, The body a broken shell.
"And a man hopes, being ignorant, Till in white woods apart He finds at last the lost bird dead: And a man may still lift up his head But never more his heart.
"There comes no noise but weeping Out of the ancient sky, And a tear is in the tiniest flower Because the gods must die.
"The little brooks are very sweet, Like a girl's ribbons curled, But the great sea is bitter That washes all the world.
"Strong are the Roman roses, Or the free flowers of the heath, But every flower, like a flower of the sea, Smelleth with the salt of death.
"And the heart of the locked battle Is the happiest place for men; When shrieking souls as shafts go by And many have died and all may die; Though this word be a mystery, Death is most distant then.
"Death blazes bright above the cup, And clear above the crown; But in that dream of battle We seem to tread it down.
"Wherefore I am a great king, And waste the world in vain, Because man hath not other power, Save that in dealing death for dower, He may forget it for an hour To remember it again.
" And slowly his hands and thoughtfully Fell from the lifted lyre, And the owls moaned from the mighty trees Till Alfred caught it to his knees And smote it as in ire.
He heaved the head of the harp on high And swept the framework barred, And his stroke had all the rattle and spark Of horses flying hard.
"When God put man in a garden He girt him with a sword, And sent him forth a free knight That might betray his lord; "He brake Him and betrayed Him, And fast and far he fell, Till you and I may stretch our necks And burn our beards in hell.
"But though I lie on the floor of the world, With the seven sins for rods, I would rather fall with Adam Than rise with all your gods.
"What have the strong gods given? Where have the glad gods led? When Guthrum sits on a hero's throne And asks if he is dead? "Sirs, I am but a nameless man, A rhymester without home, Yet since I come of the Wessex clay And carry the cross of Rome, "I will even answer the mighty earl That asked of Wessex men Why they be meek and monkish folk, And bow to the White Lord's broken yoke; What sign have we save blood and smoke? Here is my answer then.
"That on you is fallen the shadow, And not upon the Name; That though we scatter and though we fly, And you hang over us like the sky, You are more tired of victory, Than we are tired of shame.
"That though you hunt the Christian man Like a hare on the hill-side, The hare has still more heart to run Than you have heart to ride.
"That though all lances split on you, All swords be heaved in vain, We have more lust again to lose Than you to win again.
"Your lord sits high in the saddle, A broken-hearted king, But our king Alfred, lost from fame, Fallen among foes or bonds of shame, In I know not what mean trade or name, Has still some song to sing; "Our monks go robed in rain and snow, But the heart of flame therein, But you go clothed in feasts and flames, When all is ice within; "Nor shall all iron dooms make dumb Men wondering ceaselessly, If it be not better to fast for joy Than feast for misery.
"Nor monkish order only Slides down, as field to fen, All things achieved and chosen pass, As the White Horse fades in the grass, No work of Christian men.
"Ere the sad gods that made your gods Saw their sad sunrise pass, The White Horse of the White Horse Vale, That you have left to darken and fail, Was cut out of the grass.
"Therefore your end is on you, Is on you and your kings, Not for a fire in Ely fen, Not that your gods are nine or ten, But because it is only Christian men Guard even heathen things.
"For our God hath blessed creation, Calling it good.
I know What spirit with whom you blindly band Hath blessed destruction with his hand; Yet by God's death the stars shall stand And the small apples grow.
" And the King, with harp on shoulder, Stood up and ceased his song; And the owls moaned from the mighty trees, And the Danes laughed loud and long.
BOOK IV THE WOMAN IN THE FOREST Thick thunder of the snorting swine, Enormous in the gloam, Rending among all roots that cling, And the wild horses whinnying, Were the night's noises when the King Shouldering his harp, went home.
With eyes of owl and feet of fox, Full of all thoughts he went; He marked the tilt of the pagan camp, The paling of pine, the sentries' tramp, And the one great stolen altar-lamp Over Guthrum in his tent.
By scrub and thorn in Ethandune That night the foe had lain; Whence ran across the heather grey The old stones of a Roman way; And in a wood not far away The pale road split in twain.
He marked the wood and the cloven ways With an old captain's eyes, And he thought how many a time had he Sought to see Doom he could not see; How ruin had come and victory, And both were a surprise.
Even so he had watched and wondered Under Ashdown from the plains; With Ethelred praying in his tent, Till the white hawthorn swung and bent, As Alfred rushed his spears and rent The shield-wall of the Danes.
Even so he had watched and wondered, Knowing neither less nor more, Till all his lords lay dying, And axes on axes plying, Flung him, and drove him flying Like a pirate to the shore.
Wise he had been before defeat, And wise before success; Wise in both hours and ignorant, Knowing neither more nor less.
As he went down to the river-hut He knew a night-shade scent, Owls did as evil cherubs rise, With little wings and lantern eyes, As though he sank through the under-skies; But down and down he went.
As he went down to the river-hut He went as one that fell; Seeing the high forest domes and spars.
Dim green or torn with golden scars, As the proud look up at the evil stars, In the red heavens of hell.
For he must meet by the river-hut Them he had bidden to arm, Mark from the towers of Italy, And Colan of the Sacred Tree, And Eldred who beside the sea Held heavily his farm.
The roof leaned gaping to the grass, As a monstrous mushroom lies; Echoing and empty seemed the place; But opened in a little space A great grey woman with scarred face And strong and humbled eyes.
King Alfred was but a meagre man, Bright eyed, but lean and pale: And swordless, with his harp and rags, He seemed a beggar, such as lags Looking for crusts and ale.
And the woman, with a woman's eyes Of pity at once and ire, Said, when that she had glared a span, "There is a cake for any man If he will watch the fire.
" And Alfred, bowing heavily, Sat down the fire to stir, And even as the woman pitied him So did he pity her.
Saying, "O great heart in the night, O best cast forth for worst, Twilight shall melt and morning stir, And no kind thing shall come to her, Till God shall turn the world over And all the last are first.
"And well may God with the serving-folk Cast in His dreadful lot; Is not He too a servant, And is not He forgot ? "For was not God my gardener And silent like a slave; That opened oaks on the uplands Or thicket in graveyard gave? "And was not God my armourer, All patient and unpaid, That sealed my skull as a helmet, And ribs for hauberk made? "Did not a great grey servant Of all my sires and me, Build this pavilion of the pines, And herd the fowls and fill the vines, And labour and pass and leave no signs Save mercy and mystery? "For God is a great servant, And rose before the day, From some primordial slumber torn; But all we living later born Sleep on, and rise after the morn, And the Lord has gone away.
"On things half sprung from sleeping, All sleepy suns have shone, They stretch stiff arms, the yawning trees, The beasts blink upon hands and knees, Man is awake and does and sees-- But Heaven has done and gone.
For who shall guess the good riddle Or speak of the Holiest, Save in faint figures and failing words, Who loves, yet laughs among the swords, Labours, and is at rest? "But some see God like Guthrum, Crowned, with a great beard curled, But I see God like a good giant, That, labouring, lifts the world.
"Wherefore was God in Golgotha, Slain as a serf is slain; And hate He had of prince and peer, And love He had and made good cheer, Of them that, like this woman here, Go powerfully in pain.
"But in this grey morn of man's life, Cometh sometime to the mind A little light that leaps and flies, Like a star blown on the wind.
"A star of nowhere, a nameless star, A light that spins and swirls, And cries that even in hedge and hill, Even on earth, it may go ill At last with the evil earls.
"A dancing sparkle, a doubtful star, On the waste wind whirled and driven; But it seems to sing of a wilder worth, A time discrowned of doom and birth, And the kingdom of the poor on earth Come, as it is in heaven.
"But even though such days endure, How shall it profit her? Who shall go groaning to the grave, With many a meek and mighty slave, Field-breaker and fisher on the wave, And woodman and waggoner.
"Bake ye the big world all again A cake with kinder leaven; Yet these are sorry evermore-- Unless there be a little door, A little door in heaven.
" And as he wept for the woman He let her business be, And like his royal oath and rash The good food fell upon the ash And blackened instantly.
Screaming, the woman caught a cake Yet burning from the bar, And struck him suddenly on the face, Leaving a scarlet scar.
King Alfred stood up wordless, A man dead with surprise, And torture stood and the evil things That are in the childish hearts of kings An instant in his eyes.
And even as he stood and stared Drew round him in the dusk Those friends creeping from far-off farms, Marcus with all his slaves in arms, And the strange spears hung with ancient charms Of Colan of the Usk.
With one whole farm marching afoot The trampled road resounds, Farm-hands and farm-beasts blundering by And jars of mead and stores of rye, Where Eldred strode above his high And thunder-throated hounds.
And grey cattle and silver lowed Against the unlifted morn, And straw clung to the spear-shafts tall.
And a boy went before them all Blowing a ram's horn.
As mocking such rude revelry, The dim clan of the Gael Came like a bad king's burial-end, With dismal robes that drop and rend And demon pipes that wail-- In long, outlandish garments, Torn, though of antique worth, With Druid beards and Druid spears, As a resurrected race appears Out of an elder earth.
And though the King had called them forth And knew them for his own, So still each eye stood like a gem, So spectral hung each broidered hem, Grey carven men he fancied them, Hewn in an age of stone.
And the two wild peoples of the north Stood fronting in the gloam, And heard and knew each in its mind The third great thunder on the wind, The living walls that hedge mankind, The walking walls of Rome.
Mark's were the mixed tribes of the west, Of many a hue and strain, Gurth, with rank hair like yellow grass, And the Cornish fisher, Gorlias, And Halmer, come from his first mass, Lately baptized, a Dane.
But like one man in armour Those hundreds trod the field, From red Arabia to the Tyne The earth had heard that marching-line, Since the cry on the hill Capitoline, And the fall of the golden shield.
And the earth shook and the King stood still Under the greenwood bough, And the smoking cake lay at his feet And the blow was on his brow.
Then Alfred laughed out suddenly, Like thunder in the spring, Till shook aloud the lintel-beams, And the squirrels stirred in dusty dreams, And the startled birds went up in streams, For the laughter of the King.
And the beasts of the earth and the birds looked down, In a wild solemnity, On a stranger sight than a sylph or elf, On one man laughing at himself Under the greenwood tree-- The giant laughter of Christian men That roars through a thousand tales, Where greed is an ape and pride is an ass, And Jack's away with his master's lass, And the miser is banged with all his brass, The farmer with all his flails; Tales that tumble and tales that trick, Yet end not all in scorning-- Of kings and clowns in a merry plight, And the clock gone wrong and the world gone right, That the mummers sing upon Christmas night And Christmas Day in the morning.
"Now here is a good warrant," Cried Alfred, "by my sword; For he that is struck for an ill servant Should be a kind lord.
"He that has been a servant Knows more than priests and kings, But he that has been an ill servant, He knows all earthly things.
"Pride flings frail palaces at the sky, As a man flings up sand, But the firm feet of humility Take hold of heavy land.
"Pride juggles with her toppling towers, They strike the sun and cease, But the firm feet of humility They grip the ground like trees.
"He that hath failed in a little thing Hath a sign upon the brow; And the Earls of the Great Army Have no such seal to show.
"The red print on my forehead, Small flame for a red star, In the van of the violent marching, then When the sky is torn of the trumpets ten, And the hands of the happy howling men Fling wide the gates of war.
"This blow that I return not Ten times will I return On kings and earls of all degree, And armies wide as empires be Shall slide like landslips to the sea If the red star burn.
"One man shall drive a hundred, As the dead kings drave; Before me rocking hosts be riven, And battering cohorts backwards driven, For I am the first king known of Heaven That has been struck like a slave.
"Up on the old white road, brothers, Up on the Roman walls! For this is the night of the drawing of swords, And the tainted tower of the heathen hordes Leans to our hammers, fires and cords, Leans a little and falls.
"Follow the star that lives and leaps, Follow the sword that sings, For we go gathering heathen men, A terrible harvest, ten by ten, As the wrath of the last red autumn--then When Christ reaps down the kings.
"Follow a light that leaps and spins, Follow the fire unfurled! For riseth up against realm and rod, A thing forgotten, a thing downtrod, The last lost giant, even God, Is risen against the world.
" Roaring they went o'er the Roman wall, And roaring up the lane, Their torches tossed a ladder of fire, Higher their hymn was heard and higher, More sweet for hate and for heart's desire, And up in the northern scrub and brier, They fell upon the Dane.
BOOK V ETHANDUNE: THE FIRST STROKE King Guthrum was a dread king, Like death out of the north; Shrines without name or number He rent and rolled as lumber, From Chester to the Humber He drove his foemen forth.
The Roman villas heard him In the valley of the Thames, Come over the hills roaring Above their roofs, and pouring On spire and stair and flooring Brimstone and pitch and flames.
Sheer o'er the great chalk uplands And the hill of the Horse went he, Till high on Hampshire beacons He saw the southern sea.
High on the heights of Wessex He saw the southern brine, And turned him to a conquered land, And where the northern thornwoods stand, And the road parts on either hand, There came to him a sign.
King Guthrum was a war-chief, A wise man in the field, And though he prospered well, and knew How Alfred's folk were sad and few, Not less with weighty care he drew Long lines for pike and shield.
King Guthrum lay on the upper land, On a single road at gaze, And his foe must come with lean array, Up the left arm of the cloven way, To the meeting of the ways.
And long ere the noise of armour, An hour ere the break of light, The woods awoke with crash and cry, And the birds sprang clamouring harsh and high, And the rabbits ran like an elves' army Ere Alfred came in sight.
The live wood came at Guthrum, On foot and claw and wing, The nests were noisy overhead, For Alfred and the star of red, All life went forth, and the forest fled Before the face of the King.
But halted in the woodways Christ's few were grim and grey, And each with a small, far, bird-like sight Saw the high folly of the fight; And though strange joys had grown in the night, Despair grew with the day.
And when white dawn crawled through the wood, Like cold foam of a flood, Then weakened every warrior's mood, In hope, though not in hardihood; And each man sorrowed as he stood In the fashion of his blood.
For the Saxon Franklin sorrowed For the things that had been fair; For the dear dead woman, crimson-clad, And the great feasts and the friends he had; But the Celtic prince's soul was sad For the things that never were.
In the eyes Italian all things But a black laughter died; And Alfred flung his shield to earth And smote his breast and cried-- "I wronged a man to his slaying, And a woman to her shame, And once I looked on a sworn maid That was wed to the Holy Name.
"And once I took my neighbour's wife, That was bound to an eastland man, In the starkness of my evil youth, Before my griefs began.
"People, if you have any prayers, Say prayers for me: And lay me under a Christian stone In that lost land I thought my own, To wait till the holy horn is blown, And all poor men are free.
" Then Eldred of the idle farm Leaned on his ancient sword, As fell his heavy words and few; And his eyes were of such alien blue As gleams where the Northman saileth new Into an unknown fiord.
"I was a fool and wasted ale-- My slaves found it sweet; I was a fool and wasted bread, And the birds had bread to eat.
"The kings go up and the kings go down, And who knows who shall rule; Next night a king may starve or sleep, But men and birds and beasts shall weep At the burial of a fool.
"O, drunkards in my cellar, Boys in my apple tree, The world grows stern and strange and new, And wise men shall govern you, And you shall weep for me.
"But yoke me my own oxen, Down to my own farm; My own dog will whine for me, My own friends will bend the knee, And the foes I slew openly Have never wished me harm.
" And all were moved a little, But Colan stood apart, Having first pity, and after Hearing, like rat in rafter, That little worm of laughter That eats the Irish heart.
And his grey-green eyes were cruel, And the smile of his mouth waxed hard, And he said, "And when did Britain Become your burying-yard? "Before the Romans lit the land, When schools and monks were none, We reared such stones to the sun-god As might put out the sun.
"The tall trees of Britain We worshipped and were wise, But you shall raid the whole land through And never a tree shall talk to you, Though every leaf is a tongue taught true And the forest is full of eyes.
"On one round hill to the seaward The trees grow tall and grey And the trees talk together When all men are away.
"O'er a few round hills forgotten The trees grow tall in rings, And the trees talk together Of many pagan things.
"Yet I could lie and listen With a cross upon my clay, And hear unhurt for ever What the trees of Britain say.
" A proud man was the Roman, His speech a single one, But his eyes were like an eagle's eyes That is staring at the sun.
"Dig for me where I die," he said, "If first or last I fall-- Dead on the fell at the first charge, Or dead by Wantage wall; "Lift not my head from bloody ground, Bear not my body home, For all the earth is Roman earth And I shall die in Rome.
" Then Alfred, King of England, Bade blow the horns of war, And fling the Golden Dragon out, With crackle and acclaim and shout, Scrolled and aflame and far.
And under the Golden Dragon Went Wessex all along, Past the sharp point of the cloven ways, Out from the black wood into the blaze Of sun and steel and song.
And when they came to the open land They wheeled, deployed and stood; Midmost were Marcus and the King, And Eldred on the right-hand wing, And leftwards Colan darkling, In the last shade of the wood.
But the Earls of the Great Army Lay like a long half moon, Ten poles before their palisades, With wide-winged helms and runic blades Red giants of an age of raids, In the thornland of Ethandune.
Midmost the saddles rose and swayed, And a stir of horses' manes, Where Guthrum and a few rode high On horses seized in victory; But Ogier went on foot to die, In the old way of the Danes.
Far to the King's left Elf the bard Led on the eastern wing With songs and spells that change the blood; And on the King's right Harold stood, The kinsman of the King.
Young Harold, coarse, with colours gay, Smoking with oil and musk, And the pleasant violence of the young, Pushed through his people, giving tongue Foewards, where, grey as cobwebs hung, The banners of the Usk.
But as he came before his line A little space along, His beardless face broke into mirth, And he cried: "What broken bits of earth Are here? For what their clothes are worth I would sell them for a song.
" For Colan was hung with raiment Tattered like autumn leaves, And his men were all as thin as saints, And all as poor as thieves.
No bows nor slings nor bolts they bore, But bills and pikes ill-made; And none but Colan bore a sword, And rusty was its blade.
And Colan's eyes with mystery And iron laughter stirred, And he spoke aloud, but lightly Not labouring to be heard.
"Oh, truly we be broken hearts, For that cause, it is said, We light our candles to that Lord That broke Himself for bread.
"But though we hold but bitterly What land the Saxon leaves, Though Ireland be but a land of saints, And Wales a land of thieves, "I say you yet shall weary Of the working of your word, That stricken spirits never strike Nor lean hands hold a sword.
"And if ever ye ride in Ireland, The jest may yet be said, There is the land of broken hearts, And the land of broken heads.
" Not less barbarian laughter Choked Harold like a flood, "And shall I fight with scarecrows That am of Guthrum's blood? "Meeting may be of war-men, Where the best war-man wins; But all this carrion a man shoots Before the fight begins.
" And stopping in his onward strides, He snatched a bow in scorn From some mean slave, and bent it on Colan, whose doom grew dark; and shone Stars evil over Caerleon, In the place where he was born.
For Colan had not bow nor sling, On a lonely sword leaned he, Like Arthur on Excalibur In the battle by the sea.
To his great gold ear-ring Harold Tugged back the feathered tail, And swift had sprung the arrow, But swifter sprang the Gael.
Whirling the one sword round his head, A great wheel in the sun, He sent it splendid through the sky, Flying before the shaft could fly-- It smote Earl Harold over the eye, And blood began to run.
Colan stood bare and weaponless, Earl Harold, as in pain, Strove for a smile, put hand to head, Stumbled and suddenly fell dead; And the small white daisies all waxed red With blood out of his brain.
And all at that marvel of the sword, Cast like a stone to slay, Cried out.
Said Alfred: "Who would see Signs, must give all things.
Verily Man shall not taste of victory Till he throws his sword away.
" Then Alfred, prince of England, And all the Christian earls, Unhooked their swords and held them up, Each offered to Colan, like a cup Of chrysolite and pearls.
And the King said, "Do thou take my sword Who have done this deed of fire, For this is the manner of Christian men, Whether of steel or priestly pen, That they cast their hearts out of their ken To get their heart's desire.
"And whether ye swear a hive of monks, Or one fair wife to friend, This is the manner of Christian men, That their oath endures the end.
"For love, our Lord, at the end of the world, Sits a red horse like a throne, With a brazen helm and an iron bow, But one arrow alone.
"Love with the shield of the Broken Heart Ever his bow doth bend, With a single shaft for a single prize, And the ultimate bolt that parts and flies Comes with a thunder of split skies, And a sound of souls that rend.
"So shall you earn a king's sword, Who cast your sword away.
" And the King took, with a random eye, A rude axe from a hind hard by And turned him to the fray.
For the swords of the Earls of Daneland Flamed round the fallen lord.
The first blood woke the trumpet-tune, As in monk's rhyme or wizard's rune, Beginneth the battle of Ethandune With the throwing of the sword.
BOOK VI ETHANDUNE: THE SLAYING OF THE CHIEFS As the sea flooding the flat sands Flew on the sea-born horde, The two hosts shocked with dust and din, Left of the Latian paladin, Clanged all Prince Harold's howling kin On Colan and the sword.
Crashed in the midst on Marcus, Ogier with Guthrum by, And eastward of such central stir, Far to the right and faintlier, The house of Elf the harp-player, Struck Eldred's with a cry.
The centre swat for weariness, Stemming the screaming horde, And wearily went Colan's hands That swung King Alfred's sword.
But like a cloud of morning To eastward easily, Tall Eldred broke the sea of spears As a tall ship breaks the sea.
His face like a sanguine sunset, His shoulder a Wessex down, His hand like a windy hammer-stroke; Men could not count the crests he broke, So fast the crests went down.
As the tall white devil of the Plague Moves out of Asian skies, With his foot on a waste of cities And his head in a cloud of flies; Or purple and peacock skies grow dark With a moving locust-tower; Or tawny sand-winds tall and dry, Like hell's red banners beat and fly, When death comes out of Araby, Was Eldred in his hour.
But while he moved like a massacre He murmured as in sleep, And his words were all of low hedges And little fields and sheep.
Even as he strode like a pestilence, That strides from Rhine to Rome, He thought how tall his beans might be If ever he went home.
Spoke some stiff piece of childish prayer, Dull as the distant chimes, That thanked our God for good eating And corn and quiet times-- Till on the helm of a high chief Fell shatteringly his brand, And the helm broke and the bone broke And the sword broke in his hand.
Then from the yelling Northmen Driven splintering on him ran Full seven spears, and the seventh Was never made by man.
Seven spears, and the seventh Was wrought as the faerie blades, And given to Elf the minstrel By the monstrous water-maids; By them that dwell where luridly Lost waters of the Rhine Move among roots of nations, Being sunken for a sign.
Under all graves they murmur, They murmur and rebel, Down to the buried kingdoms creep, And like a lost rain roar and weep O'er the red heavens of hell.
Thrice drowned was Elf the minstrel, And washed as dead on sand; And the third time men found him The spear was in his hand.
Seven spears went about Eldred, Like stays about a mast; But there was sorrow by the sea For the driving of the last.
Six spears thrust upon Eldred Were splintered while he laughed; One spear thrust into Eldred, Three feet of blade and shaft.
And from the great heart grievously Came forth the shaft and blade, And he stood with the face of a dead man, Stood a little, and swayed-- Then fell, as falls a battle-tower, On smashed and struggling spears.
Cast down from some unconquered town That, rushing earthward, carries down Loads of live men of all renown-- Archers and engineers.
And a great clamour of Christian men Went up in agony, Crying, "Fallen is the tower of Wessex That stood beside the sea.
" Centre and right the Wessex guard Grew pale for doubt and fear, And the flank failed at the advance, For the death-light on the wizard lance-- The star of the evil spear.
"Stand like an oak," cried Marcus, "Stand like a Roman wall! Eldred the Good is fallen-- Are you too good to fall? "When we were wan and bloodless He gave you ale enow; The pirates deal with him as dung, God! are you bloodless now?" "Grip, Wulf and Gorlias, grip the ash! Slaves, and I make you free! Stamp, Hildred hard in English land, Stand Gurth, stand Gorlias, Gawen stand! Hold, Halfgar, with the other hand, Halmer, hold up on knee! "The lamps are dying in your homes, The fruits upon your bough; Even now your old thatch smoulders, Gurth, Now is the judgment of the earth, Now is the death-grip, now!" For thunder of the captain, Not less the Wessex line, Leaned back and reeled a space to rear As Elf charged with the Rhine maids' spear, And roaring like the Rhine.
For the men were borne by the waving walls Of woods and clouds that pass, By dizzy plains and drifting sea, And they mixed God with glamoury, God with the gods of the burning tree And the wizard's tower and glass.
But Mark was come of the glittering towns Where hot white details show, Where men can number and expound, And his faith grew in a hard ground Of doubt and reason and falsehood found, Where no faith else could grow.
Belief that grew of all beliefs One moment back was blown And belief that stood on unbelief Stood up iron and alone.
The Wessex crescent backwards Crushed, as with bloody spear Went Elf roaring and routing, And Mark against Elf yet shouting, Shocked, in his mid-career.
Right on the Roman shield and sword Did spear of the Rhine maids run; But the shield shifted never, The sword rang down to sever, The great Rhine sang for ever, And the songs of Elf were done.
And a great thunder of Christian men Went up against the sky, Saying, "God hath broken the evil spear Ere the good man's blood was dry.
" "Spears at the charge!" yelled Mark amain.
"Death on the gods of death! Over the thrones of doom and blood Goeth God that is a craftsman good, And gold and iron, earth and wood, Loveth and laboureth.
"The fruits leap up in all your farms, The lamps in each abode; God of all good things done on earth, All wheels or webs of any worth, The God that makes the roof, Gurth, The God that makes the road.
"The God that heweth kings in oak Writeth songs on vellum, God of gold and flaming glass, Confregit potentias Acrcuum, scutum, Gorlias, Gladium et bellum.
" Steel and lightning broke about him, Battle-bays and palm, All the sea-kings swayed among Woods of the Wessex arms upflung, The trumpet of the Roman tongue, The thunder of the psalm.
And midmost of that rolling field Ran Ogier ragingly, Lashing at Mark, who turned his blow, And brake the helm about his brow, And broke him to his knee.
Then Ogier heaved over his head His huge round shield of proof; But Mark set one foot on the shield, One on some sundered rock upheeled, And towered above the tossing field, A statue on a roof.
Dealing far blows about the fight, Like thunder-bolts a-roam, Like birds about the battle-field, While Ogier writhed under his shield Like a tortoise in his dome.
But hate in the buried Ogier Was strong as pain in hell, With bare brute hand from the inside He burst the shield of brass and hide, And a death-stroke to the Roman's side Sent suddenly and well.
Then the great statue on the shield Looked his last look around With level and imperial eye; And Mark, the man from Italy, Fell in the sea of agony, And died without a sound.
And Ogier, leaping up alive, Hurled his huge shield away Flying, as when a juggler flings A whizzing plate in play.
And held two arms up rigidly, And roared to all the Danes: "Fallen is Rome, yea, fallen The city of the plains! "Shall no man born remember, That breaketh wood or weald, How long she stood on the roof of the world As he stood on my shield.
"The new wild world forgetteth her As foam fades on the sea, How long she stood with her foot on Man As he with his foot on me.
"No more shall the brown men of the south Move like the ants in lines, To quiet men with olives Or madden men with vines.
"No more shall the white towns of the south, Where Tiber and Nilus run, Sitting around a secret sea Worship a secret sun.
"The blind gods roar for Rome fallen, And forum and garland gone, For the ice of the north is broken, And the sea of the north comes on.
"The blind gods roar and rave and dream Of all cities under the sea, For the heart of the north is broken, And the blood of the north is free.
"Down from the dome of the world we come, Rivers on rivers down, Under us swirl the sects and hordes And the high dooms we drown.
"Down from the dome of the world and down, Struck flying as a skiff On a river in spate is spun and swirled Until we come to the end of the world That breaks short, like a cliff.
"And when we come to the end of the world For me, I count it fit To take the leap like a good river, Shot shrieking over it.
"But whatso hap at the end of the world, Where Nothing is struck and sounds, It is not, by Thor, these monkish men These humbled Wessex hounds-- "Not this pale line of Christian hinds, This one white string of men, Shall keep us back from the end of the world, And the things that happen then.
"It is not Alfred's dwarfish sword, Nor Egbert's pigmy crown, Shall stay us now that descend in thunder, Rending the realms and the realms thereunder, Down through the world and down.
" There was that in the wild men back of him, There was that in his own wild song, A dizzy throbbing, a drunkard smoke, That dazed to death all Wessex folk, And swept their spears along.
Vainly the sword of Colan And the axe of Alfred plied-- The Danes poured in like a brainless plague, And knew not when they died.
Prince Colan slew a score of them, And was stricken to his knee; King Alfred slew a score and seven And was borne back on a tree.
Back to the black gate of the woods, Back up the single way, Back by the place of the parting ways Christ


Walker , Alice

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We Alone

We alone can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold there is a chain, you know, and if your chain is gold so much the worse for you.
Feathers, shells and sea-shaped stones are all as rare.
This could be our revolution: to love what is plentiful as much as what's scarce.


Whitman , Walt

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Poem of Joys

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O TO make the most jubilant poem! 
Even to set off these, and merge with these, the carols of Death.
O full of music! full of manhood, womanhood, infancy! Full of common employments! full of grain and trees.
O for the voices of animals! O for the swiftness and balance of fishes! O for the dropping of rain-drops in a poem! O for the sunshine, and motion of waves in a poem.
O the joy of my spirit! it is uncaged! it darts like lightning! It is not enough to have this globe, or a certain time—I will have thousands of globes, and all time.
2 O the engineer’s joys! To go with a locomotive! To hear the hiss of steam—the merry shriek—the steam-whistle—the laughing locomotive! To push with resistless way, and speed off in the distance.
O the gleesome saunter over fields and hill-sides! The leaves and flowers of the commonest weeds—the moist fresh stillness of the woods, The exquisite smell of the earth at day-break, and all through the forenoon.
O the horseman’s and horsewoman’s joys! The saddle—the gallop—the pressure upon the seat—the cool gurgling by the ears and hair.
3 O the fireman’s joys! I hear the alarm at dead of night, I hear bells—shouts!—I pass the crowd—I run! The sight of the flames maddens me with pleasure.
O the joy of the strong-brawn’d fighter, towering in the arena, in perfect condition, conscious of power, thirsting to meet his opponent.
O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which only the human Soul is capable of generating and emitting in steady and limitless floods.
4 O the mother’s joys! The watching—the endurance—the precious love—the anguish—the patiently yielded life.
O the joy of increase, growth, recuperation; The joy of soothing and pacifying—the joy of concord and harmony.
O to go back to the place where I was born! To hear the birds sing once more! To ramble about the house and barn, and over the fields, once more, And through the orchard and along the old lanes once more.
5 O male and female! O the presence of women! (I swear there is nothing more exquisite to me than the mere presence of women;) O for the girl, my mate! O for the happiness with my mate! O the young man as I pass! O I am sick after the friendship of him who, I fear, is indifferent to me.
O the streets of cities! The flitting faces—the expressions, eyes, feet, costumes! O I cannot tell how welcome they are to me.
6 O to have been brought up on bays, lagoons, creeks, or along the coast! O to continue and be employ’d there all my life! O the briny and damp smell—the shore—the salt weeds exposed at low water, The work of fishermen—the work of the eel-fisher and clam-fisher.
O it is I! I come with my clam-rake and spade! I come with my eel-spear; Is the tide out? I join the group of clam-diggers on the flats, I laugh and work with them—I joke at my work, like a mettlesome young man.
In winter I take my eel-basket and eel-spear and travel out on foot on the ice—I have a small axe to cut holes in the ice; Behold me, well-clothed, going gaily, or returning in the afternoon—my brood of tough boys accompaning me, My brood of grown and part-grown boys, who love to be with no one else so well as they love to be with me, By day to work with me, and by night to sleep with me.
Or, another time, in warm weather, out in a boat, to lift the lobster-pots, where they are sunk with heavy stones, (I know the buoys;) O the sweetness of the Fifth-month morning upon the water, as I row, just before sunrise, toward the buoys; I pull the wicker pots up slantingly—the dark-green lobsters are desperate with their claws, as I take them out—I insert wooden pegs in the joints of their pincers, I go to all the places, one after another, and then row back to the shore, There, in a huge kettle of boiling water, the lobsters shall be boil’d till their color becomes scarlet.
Or, another time, mackerel-taking, Voracious, mad for the hook, near the surface, they seem to fill the water for miles: Or, another time, fishing for rock-fish, in Chesapeake Bay—I one of the brown-faced crew: Or, another time, trailing for blue-fish off Paumanok, I stand with braced body, My left foot is on the gunwale—my right arm throws the coils of slender rope, In sight around me the quick veering and darting of fifty skiffs, my companions.
7 O boating on the rivers! The voyage down the Niagara, (the St.
Lawrence,)—the superb scenery—the steamers, The ships sailing—the Thousand Islands—the occasional timber-raft, and the raftsmen with long-reaching sweep-oars, The little huts on the rafts, and the stream of smoke when they cook their supper at evening.
O something pernicious and dread! Something far away from a puny and pious life! Something unproved! Something in a trance! Something escaped from the anchorage, and driving free.
O to work in mines, or forging iron! Foundry casting—the foundry itself—the rude high roof—the ample and shadow’d space, The furnace—the hot liquid pour’d out and running.
8 O to resume the joys of the soldier: To feel the presence of a brave general! to feel his sympathy! To behold his calmness! to be warm’d in the rays of his smile! To go to battle! to hear the bugles play, and the drums beat! To hear the crash of artillery! to see the glittering of the bayonets and musket-barrels in the sun! To see men fall and die, and not complain! To taste the savage taste of blood! to be so devilish! To gloat so over the wounds and deaths of the enemy.
9 O the whaleman’s joys! O I cruise my old cruise again! I feel the ship’s motion under me—I feel the Atlantic breezes fanning me, I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-head—There—she blows! —Again I spring up the rigging, to look with the rest—We see—we descend, wild with excitement, I leap in the lower’d boat—We row toward our prey, where he lies, We approach, stealthy and silent—I see the mountainous mass, lethargic, basking, I see the harpooneer standing up—I see the weapon dart from his vigorous arm: O swift, again, now, far out in the ocean, the wounded whale, settling, running to windward, tows me; —Again I see him rise to breathe—We row close again, I see a lance driven through his side, press’d deep, turn’d in the wound, Again we back off—I see him settle again—the life is leaving him fast, As he rises, he spouts blood—I see him swim in circles narrower and narrower, swiftly cutting the water—I see him die; He gives one convulsive leap in the centre of the circle, and then falls flat and still in the bloody foam.
10 O the old manhood of me, my joy! My children and grand-children—my white hair and beard, My largeness, calmness, majesty, out of the long stretch of my life.
O the ripen’d joy of womanhood! O perfect happiness at last! I am more than eighty years of age—my hair, too, is pure white—I am the most venerable mother; How clear is my mind! how all people draw nigh to me! What attractions are these, beyond any before? what bloom, more than the bloom of youth? What beauty is this that descends upon me, and rises out of me? O the orator’s joys! To inflate the chest—to roll the thunder of the voice out from the ribs and throat, To make the people rage, weep, hate, desire, with yourself, To lead America—to quell America with a great tongue.
O the joy of my soul leaning pois’d on itself—receiving identity through materials, and loving them—observing characters, and absorbing them; O my soul, vibrated back to me, from them—from facts, sight, hearing, touch, my phrenology, reason, articulation, comparison, memory, and the like; The real life of my senses and flesh, transcending my senses and flesh; My body, done with materials—my sight, done with my material eyes; Proved to me this day, beyond cavil, that it is not my material eyes which finally see, Nor my material body which finally loves, walks, laughs, shouts, embraces, procreates.
11 O the farmer’s joys! Ohioan’s, Illinoisian’s, Wisconsinese’, Kanadian’s, Iowan’s, Kansian’s, Missourian’s, Oregonese’ joys; To rise at peep of day, and pass forth nimbly to work, To plow land in the fall for winter-sown crops, To plough land in the spring for maize, To train orchards—to graft the trees—to gather apples in the fall.
O the pleasure with trees! The orchard—the forest—the oak, cedar, pine, pekan-tree, The honey-locust, black-walnut, cottonwood, and magnolia.
12 O Death! the voyage of Death! The beautiful touch of Death, soothing and benumbing a few moments, for reasons; Myself, discharging my excrementitious body, to be burn’d, or render’d to powder, or buried, My real body doubtless left to me for other spheres, My voided body, nothing more to me, returning to the purifications, further offices, eternal uses of the earth.
13 O to bathe in the swimming-bath, or in a good place along shore! To splash the water! to walk ankle-deep—to race naked along the shore.
O to realize space! The plenteousness of all—that there are no bounds; To emerge, and be of the sky—of the sun and moon, and the flying clouds, as one with them.
O the joy of a manly self-hood! Personality—to be servile to none—to defer to none—not to any tyrant, known or unknown, To walk with erect carriage, a step springy and elastic, To look with calm gaze, or with a flashing eye, To speak with a full and sonorous voice, out of a broad chest, To confront with your personality all the other personalities of the earth.
14 Know’st thou the excellent joys of youth? Joys of the dear companions, and of the merry word, and laughing face? Joys of the glad, light-beaming day—joy of the wide-breath’d games? Joy of sweet music—joy of the lighted ball-room, and the dancers? Joy of the friendly, plenteous dinner—the strong carouse, and drinking? 15 Yet, O my soul supreme! Know’st thou the joys of pensive thought? Joys of the free and lonesome heart—the tender, gloomy heart? Joy of the solitary walk—the spirit bowed yet proud—the suffering and the struggle? The agonistic throes, the extasies—joys of the solemn musings, day or night? Joys of the thought of Death—the great spheres Time and Space? Prophetic joys of better, loftier love’s ideals—the Divine Wife—the sweet, eternal, perfect Comrade? Joys all thine own, undying one—joys worthy thee, O Soul.
16 O, while I live, to be the ruler of life—not a slave, To meet life as a powerful conqueror, No fumes—no ennui—no more complaints, or scornful criticisms.
O me repellent and ugly! To these proud laws of the air, the water, and the ground, proving my interior Soul impregnable, And nothing exterior shall ever take command of me.
O to attract by more than attraction! How it is I know not—yet behold! the something which obeys none of the rest, It is offensive, never defensive—yet how magnetic it draws.
17 O joy of suffering! To struggle against great odds! to meet enemies undaunted! To be entirely alone with them! to find how much one can stand! To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, death, face to face! To mount the scaffold! to advance to the muzzles of guns with perfect nonchalance! To be indeed a God! 18 O, to sail to sea in a ship! To leave this steady, unendurable land! To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, the sidewalks and the houses; To leave you, O you solid motionless land, and entering a ship, To sail, and sail, and sail! 19 O to have my life henceforth a poem of new joys! To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on, float on, To be a sailor of the world, bound for all ports, A ship itself, (see indeed these sails I spread to the sun and air,) A swift and swelling ship, full of rich words—full of joys.


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