Speakin’ in general, I’ave tried ’em all
The ‘appy roads that take you o’er the world.
Speakin’ in general, I’ave found them good
For such as cannot use one bed too long,
But must get ‘ence, the same as I’ave done,
An’ go observin’ matters till they die.
What do it matter where or ‘ow we die,
So long as we’ve our ‘ealth to watch it all—
The different ways that different things are done,
An’ men an’ women lovin’ in this world;
Takin’ our chances as they come along,
An’ when they ain’t, pretendin’ they are good?
In cash or credit—no, it aren’t no good;
You’ve to ‘ave the ‘abit or you’d die,
Unless you lived your life but one day long,
Nor didn’t prophesy nor fret at all,
But drew your tucker some’ow from the world,
An’ never bothered what you might ha’ done.
But, Gawd, what things are they I’aven’t done?
I’ve turned my ‘and to most, an’ turned it good,
In various situations round the world
For ‘im that doth not work must surely die;
But that’s no reason man should labour all
‘Is life on one same shift—life’s none so long.
Therefore, from job to job I’ve moved along.
Pay couldn’t ‘old me when my time was done,
For something in my ‘ead upset it all,
Till I’ad dropped whatever ’twas for good,
An’, out at sea, be’eld the dock-lights die,
An’ met my mate—the wind that tramps the world!
It’s like a book, I think, this bloomin, world,
Which you can read and care for just so long,
But presently you feel that you will die
Unless you get the page you’re readi’n’ done,
An’ turn another—likely not so good;
But what you’re after is to turn’em all.
Gawd bless this world! Whatever she’oth done—
Excep’ When awful long—I’ve found it good.
So write, before I die, ” ‘E liked it all!”
Whispering to each handhold, "I'll be back,"
I go up the cliff in the dark. One place
I loosen a rock and listen a long time
till it hits, faint in the gulf, but the rush
of the torrent almost drowns it out, and the wind --
I almost forgot the wind: it tears at your side
or it waits and then buffets; you sag outward...
I remember they said it would be hard. I scramble
by luck into a little pocket out of
the wind and begin to beat on the stones
with my scratched numb hands, rocking back and forth
in silent laughter there in the dark--
"Made it again!" Oh how I love this climb!
-- the whispering to the stones, the drag, the weight
as your muscles crack and ease on, working
right. They are back there, discontent,
waiting to be driven forth. I pound
on the earth, riding the earth past the stars:
"Made it again! Made it again!"
What can I read her
What can I read her
on a Sunday Morning
What can I do that will
somehow reach her
on a Sunday Morning
I’ll read her the news of
The Indian Wars
Full of criss-cavalry, blood
Stories to tame & charm
On a Sunday Morning
Some wild fires
a dry quiet kiss on leaving
Like our ancestors
We share a fear of sex
excessive lamentation for the dead
& an abiding interest in dreams & visions
Please master can I touch your cheeck
please master can I kneel at your feet
please master can I loosen your blue pants
please master can I gaze at your golden haired belly
please master can I have your thighs bare to my eyes
please master can I take off my clothes below your chair
please master can I can I kiss your ankles and soul
please master can I touch lips to your hard muscle hairless thigh
please master can I lay my ear pressed to your stomach
please master can I wrap my arms around your white ass
please master can I lick your groin gurled with blond soft fur
please master can I touch my tongue to your rosy asshole
please master may I pass my face to your balls,
please master order me down on the floor,
please master tell me to lick your thick shaft
please master put your rough hands on my bald hairy skull
please master press my mouth to your prick-heart
please master press my face into your belly, pull me slowly strong thumbed
till your dumb hardness fills my throat to the base
till I swallow and taste your delicate flesh-hot prick barrel veined Please
Mater push my shoulders away and stare in my eyes, & make me bend over
please master grab my thighs and lift my ass to your waist
please master your hand's rough stroke on my neck your palm down to my
please master push me, my feet on chairs, till my hole feels the breath of
your spit and your thumb stroke
please master make my say Please Master Fuck me now Please
Master grease my balls and hairmouth with sweet vaselines
please master stroke your shaft with white creams
please master touch your cock head to my wrinkled self-hole
please master push it in gently, your elbows enwrapped round my breast
your arms passing down to my belly, my penis you touch w/ your fingers
please master shove it in me a little, a little, a little,
please master sink your droor thing down my behind
& please master make me wiggle my rear to eat up the prick trunk
till my asshalfs cuddle your thighs, my back bent over,
till I'm alone sticking out, your sword stuck throbbing in me
please master pull out and slowly roll onto the bottom
please master lunge it again, and withdraw the tip
please please master fuck me again with your self, please fuck me Please
Master drive down till it hurts me the softness the
Softness please master make love to my ass, give body to center, & fuck me
for good like a girl,
tenderly clasp me please master I take me to thee,
& drive in my belly your selfsame sweet heat-rood
you fingered in solitude Denver or Brooklyn or fucked in a maiden in Paris
please master drive me thy vehicle, body of love drops, sweat fuck
body of tenderness, Give me your dogh fuck faster
please master make me go moan on the table
Go moan O please master do fuck me like that
in your rhythm thrill-plunge & pull-back-bounce & push down
till I loosen my asshole a dog on the table yelping with terror delight to be
Please master call me a dog, an ass beast, a wet asshole,
& fuck me more violent, my eyes hid with your palms round my skull
& plunge down in a brutal hard lash thru soft drip-fish
& throb thru five seconds to spurt out your semen heat
over & over, bamming it in while I cry out your name I do love you
Nel marzo ebro di sole il grande arbusto
in mezzo al prato si coprì di gialli
fioretti: le novelle accese rame
salenti e ricadenti con superba
veemenza di getto dànno raggi
e barbagli a mirarle; e tu quasi odi
scroscio di fonte uscir da loro; e tutta
la Primavera da quell'aurea polla
ti si versa cantando entro le vene.
Thinking of rain clouds that rose over the city
on the first day of the year
in the same month
I consider that I have lived daily and with
eyes open and ears to hear
these years across from St Vincent's Hospital
above whose roof those clouds rose
its bricks by day a French red under
cross facing south
blown-up neo-classic facades the tall
dark openings between columns at
the dawn of. history
exploded into many windows
in a mortised face
inside it the ambulances have unloaded
after sirens' howling nearer through traffic on
Seventh Avenue long
ago I learned not to hear them
even when the sirens stop
they turn to back in
few passers-by stay to look
and neither do I
at night two long blue
windows and one short one on the top floor
burn all night
many nights when most of the others are out
on what floor do they have
I have seen the building drift moonlit through geraniums
late at night when trucks were few
moon just past the full
upper windows parts of the sky
as long as I looked
I watched it at Christmas and New Year
early in the morning I have seen the nurses ray out through
in the evening have noticed internes blocks away
on doorsteps one foot in the door
I have come upon the men in gloves taking out
the garbage at all hours
plastic bags white strata with green intermingled and
I have seen one pile
catch fire and studied the cloud
at the ends of the jets of the hoses
the fire engines as near as that
red beacons and
machine-throb heard by the whole body
I have noticed molded containers stacked outside
a delivery entrance on Twelfth Street
whether meals from a meal factory made up with those
mummified for long journeys by plane
or specimens for laboratory
examination sealed at the prescribed temperatures
either way closed delivery
and approached faces staring from above
crutches or tubular clamps
out for tentative walks
have paused for turtling wheel-chairs
heard visitors talking in wind on each corner
while the lights changed and
hot dogs were handed over at the curb
in the middle of afternoon
mustard ketchup onions and relish
and police smelling of ether and laundry
were going back
and I have known them all less than the papers of our days
smoke rises from the chimneys do they have an incinerator
how warm do they believe they have to maintain the air
several of the windows appear
to be made of tin
but it may be the light reflected
I have imagined bees coming and going
on those sills though I have never seen them
who was St Vincent
O Liberty, God-gifted--
Young and immortal maid--
In your high hand uplifted,
The torch declares your trade.
Its crimson menace, flaming
Upon the sea and shore,
Is, trumpet-like, proclaiming
That Law shall be no more.
We're blinking in the light;
Where is your customary
Grenade of dynamite?
Where are your staves and switches
For men of gentle birth?
Your mask and dirk for riches?
Your chains for wit and worth?
Perhaps, you've brought the halters
You used in the old days,
When round religion's altars
You stabled Cromwell's bays?
Behind you, unsuspected,
Have you the axe, fair wench,
Wherewith you once collected
A poll-tax for the French?
America salutes you--
Preparing to "disgorge."
Take everything that suits you,
And marry Henry George.
La terra e a lei concorde il mare
e sopra ovunque un mare più giocondo
per la veloce fiamma dei passeri
e la via
della riposante luna e del sonno
dei dolci corpi socchiusi alla vita
e alla morte su un campo;
e per quelle voci che scendono
sfuggendo a misteriose porte e balzano
sopra noi come uccelli folli di tornare
sopra le isole originali cantando:
qui si prepara
un giaciglio di porpora e un canto che culla
per chi non ha potuto dormire
sì dura era la pietra,
sì acuminato l'amore.
At the last minute a word is waiting
not heard that way before and not to be
repeated or ever be remembered
one that always had been a household word
used in speaking of the ordinary
everyday recurrences of living
not newly chosen or long considered
or a matter for comment afterward
who would ever have thought it was the one
saying itself from the beginning through
all its uses and circumstances to
utter at last that meaning of its own
for which it had long been the only word
though it seems now that any word would do
HER even lines her steady temper show ;
Neat as her dress, and polish'd as her brow ;
Strong as her judgment, easy as her air ;
Correct though free, and regular though fair :
And the same graces o'er her pen preside
That form her manners and her footsteps guide.
La cosa più superba è la Notte,
quando cadono gli ultimi spaventi
e l'anima si getta all'avventura.
Lui tace nel tuo grembo
come riassorbito dal sangue,
che finalmente si colora di Dio
e tu preghi che taccia per sempre,
per non sentirlo come rigoglio fisso
fin dentro le pareti.
Tirreno, anche il mio petto è un mar profondo,
E di tempeste, o grande, a te non cede:
L’anima mia rugge ne’ flutti, e a tondo
Suoi brevi lidi e il picciol cielo fiede.
Tra le sucide schiume anche dal fondo
Stride la rena: e qua e là si vede
Qualche cetaceo stupido ed immondo
Boccheggiar ritto dietro immonde prede.
La ragion de le sue vedette algenti
Contempla e addita e conta ad una ad una
Onde belve ed arene invan furenti:
Come su questa solitaria duna
L’ire tue negre e gli autunnali venti
Inutil lampa illumina la luna.
In Vienna there are ten little girls,
a shoulder for death to cry on,
and a forest of dried pigeons.
There is a fragment of tomorrow
in the museum of winter frost.
There is a thousand-windowed dance hall.
Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this close-mouthed waltz.
Little waltz, little waltz, little waltz,
of itself of death, and of brandy
that dips its tail in the sea.
I love you, I love you, I love you,
with the armchair and the book of death,
down the melancholy hallway,
in the iris' darkened garret.
Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this broken-waisted waltz.
In Vienna there are four mirrors
in which your mouth and the echoes play.
There is a death for piano
that paints little boys blue.
There are beggars on the roof.
There are fresh garlands of tears.
Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this waltz that dies in my arms.
Because I love you, I love you, my love,
in the attic wherethe children play,
dreaming ancient lights of Hungary
through the noise, the balmy afternoon,
seeing sheep and irises of snow
through teh dark silence of your forehead.
Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this "I will always love you" waltz.
In Vienna I will dance with you
in a costume with
a river's head.
See how the hyacinths line my banks!
I will leave my mouth between your legs,
my soul in photographs and lilies,
and in the dark wake of your footsteps,
my love, my love, I will have to leave
violin and grave, the waltzing ribbons.
Volez, nobles coursiers, franchissez la distance !
Pour le prix disputé, luttez avec constance !
Sous un soleil de feu, le sol est éclatant ;
Pour vous voir aujourd'hui, tout est bruit et lumière ;
Ainsi qu'un flot d'encens, la légère poussière,
Devant vos pas, s'envole au but qui vous attend.
Que l'air rapide et vif, soulevant vos poitrines,
S'échappe palpitant de vos larges narines !
Laissez sous l'éperon votre flanc s'entr'ouvrir...
Volez, nobles coursiers, dussiez-vous en mourir !
Au milieu des bravos, votre course s'achève ;
Le silence revient - puis, je pense et je rêve...
Notre vie est l'arène où se hâtent nos pas ;
Nous volons vers le but que l'on ne connaît pas.
Fatigués, épuisés, prêts à tomber, qu'importe !
Nous marchons à grands pas, le torrent nous emporte.
Oubliant le passé, repoussant le présent,
Nos regards inquiets se portent en avant ;
Rien n'est beau que plus loin... et notre flanc palpite,
Sous l'éperon caché qui nous dit : « Marche vite ! »
Nous marchons. - Quelquefois, à travers les déserts,
Une oasis répand ses parfums dans les airs,
Un doux chant retentit sur le bord de la route :
L'oasis, on la fuit ; le chant, nul ne l'écoute.
Sans garder du chemin regret ou souvenir,
D'un avide regard, on cherche l'avenir ;
L'avenir, c'est le but ! l'avenir, c'est la vie !
Bientôt, à notre gré, la distance est franchie ;
Haletants de la course, épuisés de l'effort,
Nous touchons l'avenir... L'avenir, c'est la mort !
Qu'ai-je dit ? - Ô mon Dieu ! toi qui m'entends, pardonne !...
L'avenir, c'est le ciel, où ton soleil rayonne
Sans que la nuit succède à l'éclat d'un beau jour,
Sans que l'oubli succède aux paroles d'amour !
L'avenir, c'est le ciel où s'arrête l'orage !
C'est le port qui reçoit les débris du naufrage ;
C'est la fin des regrets ; c'est l'éternel printemps ;
C'est l'ange dont la voix a de divins accents.
L'avenir, ô mon Dieu ! c'est la sainte auréole
Que pose sur nos fronts ta main qui nous console.
Oui, marchons ! et vers toi levant souvent les yeux,
Avançons vers le but que nous montrent les cieux.
Chut ! voici le signal, franchissez la distance.
Volez, nobles coursiers, luttez avec constance !
Sous un soleil de feu, le sol est éclatant ;
Pour vous voir aujourd'hui, tout est bruit et lumière ;
Ainsi qu'un flot d'encens, la légère poussière,
Devant vos pas, s'envole au but qui vous attend.
Que l'air rapide et vif, soulevant vos poitrines,
S'échappe palpitant de vos larges narines !
Laissez sous l'éperon votre flanc s'entr'ouvrir...
Volez, nobles coursiers, dussiez-vous en mourir !
All that I had I brought,
Little enough I know;
A poor rhyme roughly wrought,
A rose to match thy snow:
All that I had I brought.
Little enough I sought:
But a word compassionate,
A passing glance, or thought,
For me outside the gate:
Little enough I sought.
Little enough I found:
All that you had, perchance!
With the dead leaves on the ground,
I dance the devil's dance.
All that you had I found.
Pourquoi le prononcer ce nom de la patrie ?
Dans son brillant exil mon coeur en a frémi ;
Il résonne de loin dans mon âme attendrie,
Comme les pas connus ou la voix d'un ami.
Montagnes que voilait le brouillard de l'automne,
Vallons que tapissait le givre du matin,
Saules dont l'émondeur effeuillait la couronne,
Vieilles tours que le soir dorait dans le lointain,
Murs noircis par les ans, coteaux, sentier rapide,
Fontaine où les pasteurs accroupis tour à tour
Attendaient goutte à goutte une eau rare et limpide,
Et, leur urne à la main, s'entretenaient du jour,
Chaumière où du foyer étincelait la flamme,
Toit que le pèlerin aimait à voir fumer,
Objets inanimés, avez-vous donc une âme
Qui s'attache à notre âme et la force d'aimer ?
On donnait à Favart Mosé. Tamburini,
Le basso cantante, le ténor Rubini,
Devaient jouer tous deux dans la pièce ; et la salle
Quand on l'eût élargie et faite colossale,
Grande comme Saint-Charle ou comme la Scala,
N'aurait pu contenir son public ce soir-là.
Moi, plus heureux que tous, j'avais tout à connaître,
Et la voix des chanteurs et l'ouvrage du maître.
Aimant peu l'opéra, c'est hasard si j'y vais,
Et je n'avais pas vu le Moïse français ;
Car notre idiome, à nous, rauque et sans prosodie,
Fausse toute musique ; et la note hardie,
Contre quelque mot dur se heurtant dans son vol,
Brise ses ailes d'or et tombe sur le sol.
J'étais là, les deux bras en croix sur la poitrine,
Pour contenir mon cœur plein d'extase divine ;
Mes artères chantant avec un sourd frisson,
Mon oreille tendue et buvant chaque son,
Attentif, comme au bruit de la grêle fanfare,
Un cheval ombrageux qui palpite et s'effare ;
Toutes les voix criaient, toutes les mains frappaient,
A force d'applaudir les gants blancs se rompaient ;
Et la toile tomba. C'était le premier acte.
Alors je regardai ; plus nette et plus exacte,
A travers le lorgnon dans mes yeux moins distraits,
Chaque tête à son tour passait avec ses traits.
Certes, sous l'éventail et la grille dorée,
Roulant, dans leurs doigts blancs la cassolette ambrée,
Au reflet des joyaux, au feu des diamants,
Avec leurs colliers d'or et tous leurs ornements,
J'en vis plus d'une belle et méritant éloge,
Du moins je le croyais, quand au fond d'une loge
J'aperçus une femme. Il me sembla d'abord,
La loge lui formant un cadre de son bord,
Que c'était un tableau de Titien ou Giorgione,
Moins la fumée antique et moins le vernis jaune,
Car elle se tenait dans l'immobilité,
Regardant devant elle avec simplicité,
La bouche épanouie en un demi-sourire,
Et comme un livre ouvert son front se laissant lire ;
Sa coiffure était basse, et ses cheveux moirés
Descendaient vers sa tempe en deux flots séparés.
Ni plumes, ni rubans, ni gaze, ni dentelle ;
Pour parure et bijoux, sa grâce naturelle ;
Pas d'œillade hautaine ou de grand air vainqueur,
Rien que le repos d'âme et la bonté de cœur.
Au bout de quelque temps, la belle créature,
Se lassant d'être ainsi, prit une autre posture :
Le col un peu penché, le menton sur la main,
De façon à montrer son beau profil romain,
Son épaule et son dos aux tons chauds et vivaces
Où l'ombre avec le clair flottaient par larges masses.
Tout perdait son éclat, tout tombait à côté
De cette virginale et sereine beauté ;
Mon âme tout entière à cet aspect magique,
Ne se souvenait plus d'écouter la musique,
Tant cette morbidezze et ce laisser-aller
Était chose charmante et douce à contempler,
Tant l'œil se reposait avec mélancolie
Sur ce pâle jasmin transplanté d'Italie.
Moins épris des beaux sons qu'épris des beaux contours
Même au parlar Spiegar, je regardai toujours ;
J'admirais à part moi la gracieuse ligne
Du col se repliant comme le col d'un cygne,
L'ovale de la tête et la forme du front,
La main pure et correcte, avec le beau bras rond ;
Et je compris pourquoi, s'exilant de la France,
Ingres fit si longtemps ses amours de Florence.
Jusqu'à ce jour j'avais en vain cherché le beau ;
Ces formes sans puissance et cette fade peau
Sous laquelle le sang ne court, que par la fièvre
Et que jamais soleil ne mordit de sa lèvre ;
Ce dessin lâche et mou, ce coloris blafard
M'avaient fait blasphémer la sainteté de l'art.
J'avais dit : l'art est faux, les rois de la peinture
D'un habit idéal revêtent la nature.
Ces tons harmonieux, ces beaux linéaments,
N'ont jamais existé qu'aux cerveaux des amants,
J'avais dit, n'ayant vu que la laideur française,
Raphaël a menti comme Paul Véronèse !
Vous n'avez pas menti, non, maîtres ; voilà bien
Le marbre grec doré par l'ambre italien
L'œil de flamme, le teint passionnément pâle,
Blond comme le soleil, sous son voile de hâle,
Dans la mate blancheur, les noirs sourcils marqués,
Le nez sévère et droit, la bouche aux coins arqués,
Les ailes de cheveux s'abattant sur les tempes ;
Et tous les nobles traits de vos saintes estampes,
Non, vous n'avez pas fait un rêve de beauté,
C'est la vie elle-même et la réalité.
Votre Madone est là ; dans sa loge elle pose,
Près d'elle vainement l'on bourdonne et l'on cause ;
Elle reste immobile et sous le même jour,
Gardant comme un trésor l'harmonieux contour.
Artistes souverains, en copistes fidèles,
Vous avez reproduit vos superbes modèles !
Pourquoi découragé par vos divins tableaux,
Ai-je, enfant paresseux, jeté là mes pinceaux,
Et pris pour vous fixer le crayon du poète,
Beaux rêves, possesseurs de mon âme inquiète,
Doux fantômes bercés dans les bras du désir,
Formes que la parole en vain cherche à saisir !
Pourquoi lassé trop tôt dans une heure de doute,
Peinture bien-aimée, ai-je quitté ta route !
Que peuvent tous nos vers pour rendre la beauté,
Que peuvent de vains mots sans dessin arrêté,
Et l'épithète creuse et la rime incolore.
Ah ! Combien je regrette et comme je déplore
De ne plus être peintre, en te voyant ainsi
A Mosé, dans ta loge, ô Julia Grisi !
for leather accrues
The miracle of the streets
The scents & smogs &
pollens of existence
so totally naked she was
We looked around
lights now on
Top see our fellow travellers
I am troubled
By your eyes
I am struck
By the feather
of your soft
The sound of glass
What your eyes fight
She looked so sad in sleep
Like a friendly hand
just out of reach
A candle stranded on
While the sun sinks low
an H-bomb in reverse
Soon she will disappear
into the calm
My Wild Love!
I get my best ideas when the
telephone rings & rings. It’s no fun
To feel like a fool-when your
baby’s gone. A new ax to my head:
Possession. I create my own sword
of Damascus. I’ve done nothing w/time.
A little tot prancing the boards playing
w/Revolution. When out there the
World awaits & abounds w/heavy gangs
of murderers & real madmen. Hanging
from windows as if to say: I’m bold-
do you love me? Just for tonight.
A One Night Stand. A dog howls & whines
at the glass sliding door (why can’t I
be in there?) A cat yowls. A car engine
revs & races against the grain- dry
rasping carbon protest. I put the book
down- & begin my own book.
Love for the fat girl.
When will SHE get here?
In the gloom
In the shady living room
where we lived & died
& laughed & cried
& the pride of our relationship
took hold that summer
What a trip
To hold your hand
& tell the cops
you’re not 16
The wino left a little in
the old blue desert
the cliche of rats
who skim the trees
in search of fat
Hip children invade the grounds
& sleep in the wet grass
’til the dogs rush out
I’m going South!
Desde la curva orilla de la luna
me alcanza el sueño leve y descansado.
Duérmese el bosque, duérmese el venado,
la desdicha, el gemido y la fortuna.
Muere la tierna irrealidad de luna,
Llégame el mundo absurdo y trastocado,
corzo de bruma, ruiseñor dorado,
lucero azul en árbol de aceituna.
Y llegas tú, furtivo y silencioso
con tu ángel de miel, en el sinuoso
camino de ese sueño sin medida
en el tiempo que cuentan los relojes,
y se llenan mis silos y mis trojes
de una nueva riqueza de la vida.
(For G. H.)
Say, does that stupid earth
Where they have laid her,
Bind still her sullen mirth,
Mirth which betrayed her?
Do the lush grasses hold,
Greenly and glad,
That brittle-perfect gold
She alone had?
Smugly the common crew,
Over their knitting,
Mourn her -- as butchers do
Sheep-throats they're slitting!
She was my enemy,
One of the best of them.
Would she come back to me,
God damn the rest of them!
Damn them, the flabby, fat,
Sleek little darlings!
We gave them tit for tat,
Snarlings for snarlings!
Shocked at our violence,
Let not one tactful hiss
Break her new silence!
Maids of antiquity,
Look well upon her;
Ice was her chastity,
Spotless her honor.
Neighbors, with breasts of snow,
Dames of much virtue,
How she could flame and glow!
Lord, how she hurt you!
She was a woman, and
Tender -- at times!
(Delicate was her hand)
One of her crimes!
Hair that strayed elfinly,
Lips red as haws,
You, with the ready lie,
Was that the cause?
Rest you, my enemy,
Slain without fault,
Life smacks but tastelessly
Lacking your salt!
Stuck in a bog whence naught
May catapult me,
Come from the grave, long-sought,
Come and insult me!
WE knew that sugared stuff
Poisoned the other;
Rough as the wind is rough,
Sister and brother!
Breathing the ether clear
Others forlorn have found --
Oh, for that peace austere
She and her scorn have found!
Hirió blandamente el aire
Con su dulce voz Narcisa,
Y él le repitió los ecos
Por boca de las heridas.
De los celestiales Ejes
El rápido curso fija,
Y en los Elementos cesa
la discordia nunca unida.
Al dulce imán de su voz
Quisieran, por asistirla,
Firmamento ser el Móvil,
El Sol ser estrella fija.
Tan bella, sobre canora,
Que el amor dudoso admira,
Si se deben sus arpones
A sus ecos, o a su vista.
Porque tan confusamente
Hiere, que no se averigua,
si está en la voz la hermosura,
O en los ojos la armonía.
Homicidas sus facciones
El mortal cambio ejercitan;
Voces, que alteran los ojos
Rayos que el labio fulmina.
Quién podrá vivir seguro,
si su hermosura Divina
Con los ojos y las voces
Duplicadas armas vibra.
El Mar la admira Sirena,
Y con sus marinas Ninfas
Le da en lenguas de las Aguas
Pero Fabio que es el blanco
Adonde las flecha tira,
Así le dijo, culpando
De superfluas sus heridas:
No dupliques las armas,
que está ociosa la muerte
Donde no hay vida.
The still explosions on the rocks,
the lichens, grow
by spreading, gray, concentric shocks.
They have arranged
to meet the rings around the moon, although
within our memories they have not changed.
And since the heavens will attend
as long on us,
you've been, dear friend,
precipitate and pragmatical;
and look what happens. For Time is
nothing if not amenable.
The shooting stars in your black hair
in bright formation
are flocking where,
so straight, so soon?
--Come, let me wash it in this big tin basin,
battered and shiny like the moon.
They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,
And along the trampled edges of the street
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids
Sprouting despondently at area gates.
The brown waves of fog toss up to me
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts
An aimless smile that hovers in the air
And vanishes along the level of the roofs.
Jo i soj neri di amòur
né frut né rosignòul
dut intèir coma un flòur
i brami sensa sen.
Soj levat ienfra li violis
intant ch'a sclariva,
ciantànt un ciant dismintiàt
ta la not vualiva.
Mi soj dit: "Narcìs!"
e un spirt cu'l me vis
al scuriva la erba
cu'l clar dai so ris.
Spesso il male di vivere ho incontrato:
era il rivo strozzato che gorgoglia,
era l'incartocciarsi della foglia
riarsa, era il cavallo stramazzato.
Bene non seppi; fuori del prodigio
che schiude la divina Indifferenza:
era la statua nella sonnolenza
del meriggio, e la nuvola, e il falco alto levato.
Si para recobrar lo recobrado
debí perder primero lo perdido,
si para conseguir lo conseguido
tuve que soportar lo soportado,
si para estar ahora enamorado
fue menester haber estado herido,
tengo por bien sufrido lo sufrido,
tengo por bien llorado lo llorado.
Porque después de todo he comprobado
que no se goza bien de lo gozado
sino después de haberlo padecido.
Porque después de todo he comprendido
por lo que el árbol tiene de florido
vive de lo que tiene sepultado.
Tardan las cartas y son poco
para decir lo que uno quiere.
Después pasan los años, y la vida
(demasiado confusa para explicar por carta)
nos hará más perdidos.
Los unos en los otros, iguales a las sombras
al fondo un pasillo desvayéndonos,
viviremos de luz involuntaria
pero sólo un instante, porque ya el recuerdo
será como un puñado de conchas recogidas,
tan hermoso en sí mismo que no devuelve nunca
las palmeras felices y el mar trémulo.
Todo fue hace minutos: dos amigos
hemos visto tu rostro terriblemente serio
Y estamos los dos solos y en silencio,
en medio de este día de domingo,
bellísimo de mayo, con matrimonios jóvenes
y niños excitados que gritaban
al levantarse tu avión.
Ahora las montañas parecen más cercanas.
Y, por primera vez,
pensamos en nosotros.
A solas con tu imagen,
cada cual se conoce por este sentimiento
de cansancio, que es dulce -como un brillo de lágrimas
que empaña la memoria de estos días,
esta extraña semana.
Y el mal que nos hacemos,
como el que a ti te hicimos, lo inevitablemente
amargo de esta vida en la que siempre, siempre,
somos peores que nosotros mismos,
acaso resucite un viejo sueño
sabido y olvidado.
El sueño de ser buenos y felices.
Porque sueño y recuerdo tienen fuerza
para obligar la vida,
aunque sean no más que un límite imposible.
Si este mar de proyectos
y tentativas naufragadas,
este torpe tapiz a cada instante
tejido y destejido,
esta guerra perdida,
da de sí alguna vez un sentimiento digno,
un acto verdadero,
en él tu estarás para siempre asociado
a mi amigo y a mí. No te habremos perdido.
Fair stood the wind for France
When we our sails advance,
Nor now to prove our chance
Longer will tarry;
But putting to the main,
At Caux, the mouth of Seine,
With all his martial train,
Landed King Harry.
And taking many a fort,
Furnished in warlike sort,
Marcheth towards Agincourt
In happy hour;
Skirmishing day by day
With those that stopped his way,
Where the French gen'ral lay
With all his power;
Which, in his height of pride,
King Henry to deride,
His ransom to provide
Unto him sending;
Which he neglects the while,
As from a nation vile,
Yet with an angry smile
Their fall portending.
And turning to his men,
Quoth our brave Henry then,
"Though they to one be ten,
Be not amazed.
Yet have we well begun,
Battles so bravely won
Have ever to the sun
By fame been raised.
"And for myself (quoth he),
This my full rest shall be;
England ne'er mourn for me,
Nor more esteem me.
Victor I will remain,
Or on this earth lie slain;
Never shall she sustain
Loss to redeem me.
"Poitiers and Cressy tell,
When most their pride did swell,
Under our swords they fell;
No less our skill is
Than when our grandsire great,
Claiming the regal seat,
By many a warlike feat
Lopped the French lilies."
The Duke of York so dread
The eager vaward led;
With the main Henry sped
Amongst his henchmen.
Exeter had the rear,
A braver man not there; -
O Lord, how hot they were
On the false Frenchmen!
They now to fight are gone,
Armour on armour shone,
Drum now to drum did groan,
To hear was wonder;
That with the cries they make
The very earth did shake;
Trumpet to trumpet spake,
Thunder to thunder.
Well it thine age became,
O noble Erpingham,
Which didst the signal aim
To our hid forces!
When from a meadow by,
Like a storm suddenly,
The English archery
Stuck the French horses.
With Spanish yew so strong,
Arrows a cloth-yard long,
That like to serpents stung,
Piercing the weather;
None from his fellow starts,
But, playing manly parts,
And like true English hearts,
Stuck close together.
When down their bows they threw,
And forth their bilbos drew,
And on the French they flew,
Not one was tardy;
Arms were from shoulders sent,
Scalps to the teeth were rent,
Down the French peasants went -
Our men were hardy!
This while our noble king,
His broadsword brandishing,
Down the French host did ding,
As to o'erwhelm it;
And many a deep wound lent,
His arms with blood besprent,
And many a cruel dent
Bruised his helmet.
Gloucester, that duke so good,
Next of the royal blood,
For famous England stood
With his brave brother;
Clarence, in steel so bright,
Though but a maiden knight,
Yet in that furious fight
Scarce such another.
Warwick in blood did wade,
Oxford the foe invade,
And cruel slaughter made
Still as they ran up;
Suffolk his axe did ply,
Beaumont and Willoughby
Bare them right doughtily,
Ferrers and Fanhope.
Upon Saint Crispin's Day
Fought was this noble fray,
Which fame did not delay
To England to carry.
O, when shall English men
With such acts fill a pen;
Or England breed again
Such a King Harry?
Girerò per le strade finché non sarò stanca morta
saprò vivere sola e fissare negli occhi
ogni volto che passa e restare sempre la stessa.
Questo fresco che sale a cercarmi le vene
è un risveglio che mai nel mattino ho provato
così vero: soltanto, mi sento più forte
che il mio corpo, e un tremore più feddo accompagna il mattino.
Son lontani i mattini che avevo vent'anni.
E domani, ventuno: domani uscirò per le strade,
ne ricordo ogni sasso e le strisce di cielo.
Da domani la gente riprende a vedermi
e sarò ritta in piedi e potrò soffermarmi
e specchiarmi in vetrine. I mattini di un tempo,
ero giovane e non lo sapevo, e
di essere io che passavo-una donna, pdrona
di se stessa. La magra bambina che fui
si è svegliata da un pianto non fosse mai stato.
E desidero solo colori. I colori non piangono,
sono come un risveglio: domani i colori
torneranno. Ciascuna uscirà per la strada,
ogni corpo un colore-perfino i bambini.
Questo corpo vestito di rosso leggero
dopo tanto pallore riavrà la sua vita.
Sentirò intorno a me scivolare gli sguardi e saprò d'esser io: gettando un'occhiata,
mi vedrò tra la gente. Ogni nuovo mattino,
uscirò per le strade cercando i colori.
I keep my answers small and keep them near;
Big questions bruised my mind but still I let
Small answers be a bulwark to my fear.
The huge abstractions I keep from the light;
Small things I handled and caressed and loved.
I let the stars assume the whole of night.
But the big answers clamoured to be moved
Into my life. Their great audacity
Shouted to be acknowledged and believed.
Even when all small answers build up to
Protection of my spirit, I still hear
Big answers striving for their overthrow
And all the great conclusions coming near.
--To Elizabeth Robins Pennell
'O mes cheres Mille et Une Nuits!'--Fantasio.
Once on a time
There was a little boy: a master-mage
By virtue of a Book
Of magic--O, so magical it filled
His life with visionary pomps
Processional! And Powers
Passed with him where he passed. And Thrones
And Dominations, glaived and plumed and mailed,
Thronged in the criss-cross streets,
The palaces pell-mell with playing-fields,
Domes, cloisters, dungeons, caverns, tents, arcades,
Of the unseen, silent City, in his soul
Pavilioned jealously, and hid
As in the dusk, profound,
Green stillnesses of some enchanted mere.--
I shut mine eyes . . . And lo!
A flickering snatch of memory that floats
Upon the face of a pool of darkness five
And thirty dead years deep,
Antic in girlish broideries
And skirts and silly shoes with straps
And a broad-ribanded leghorn, he walks
Plain in the shadow of a church
(St. Michael's: in whose brazen call
To curfew his first wails of wrath were whelmed),
Sedate for all his haste
To be at home; and, nestled in his arm,
Inciting still to quiet and solitude,
Boarded in sober drab,
With small, square, agitating cuts
Let in a-top of the double-columned, close,
Quakerlike print, a Book! . . .
What but that blessed brief
Of what is gallantest and best
In all the full-shelved Libraries of Romance?
The Book of rocs,
Sandalwood, ivory, turbans, ambergris,
Cream-tarts, and lettered apes, and calendars,
And ghouls, and genies--O, so huge
They might have overed the tall Minster Tower
Hands down, as schoolboys take a post!
In truth, the Book of Camaralzaman,
Schemselnihar and Sindbad, Scheherezade
The peerless, Bedreddin, Badroulbadour,
Cairo and Serendib and Candahar,
And Caspian, and the dim, terrific bulk--
Ice-ribbed, fiend-visited, isled in spells and storms--
Of Kaf! . . . That centre of miracles,
The sole, unparalleled Arabian Nights!
Old friends I had a-many--kindly and grim
Familiars, cronies quaint
And goblin! Never a Wood but housed
Some morrice of dainty dapperlings. No Brook
But had his nunnery
Of green-haired, silvry-curving sprites,
To cabin in his grots, and pace
His lilied margents. Every lone Hillside
Might open upon Elf-Land. Every Stalk
That curled about a Bean-stick was of the breed
Of that live ladder by whose delicate rungs
You climbed beyond the clouds, and found
The Farm-House where the Ogre, gorged
And drowsy, from his great oak chair,
Among the flitches and pewters at the fire,
Called for his Faery Harp. And in it flew,
And, perching on the kitchen table, sang
Jocund and jubilant, with a sound
Of those gay, golden-vowered madrigals
The shy thrush at mid-May
Flutes from wet orchards flushed with the triumphing dawn;
Or blackbirds rioting as they listened still,
In old-world woodlands rapt with an old-world spring,
For Pan's own whistle, savage and rich and lewd,
And mocked him call for call!
I could not pass
The half-door where the cobbler sat in view
Nor figure me the wizen Leprechaun,
In square-cut, faded reds and buckle-shoes,
Bent at his work in the hedge-side, and know
Just how he tapped his brogue, and twitched
His wax-end this and that way, both with wrists
And elbows. In the rich June fields,
Where the ripe clover drew the bees,
And the tall quakers trembled, and the West Wind
Lolled his half-holiday away
Beside me lolling and lounging through my own,
'Twas good to follow the Miller's Youngest Son
On his white horse along the leafy lanes;
For at his stirrup linked and ran,
Not cynical and trapesing, as he loped
From wall to wall above the espaliers,
But in the bravest tops
That market-town, a town of tops, could show:
Bold, subtle, adventurous, his tail
A banner flaunted in disdain
Of human stratagems and shifts:
King over All the Catlands, present and past
And future, that moustached
Artificer of fortunes, Puss-in-Boots!
Or Bluebeard's Closet, with its plenishing
Of meat-hooks, sawdust, blood,
And wives that hung like fresh-dressed carcases--
Odd-fangled, most a butcher's, part
A faery chamber hazily seen
And hazily figured--on dark afternoons
And windy nights was visiting of the best.
Then, too, the pelt of hoofs
Out in the roaring darkness told
Of Herne the Hunter in his antlered helm
Galloping, as with despatches from the Pit,
Between his hell-born Hounds.
And Rip Van Winkle . . . often I lurked to hear,
Outside the long, low timbered, tarry wall,
The mutter and rumble of the trolling bowls
Down the lean plank, before they fluttered the pins;
For, listening, I could help him play
His wonderful game,
In those blue, booming hills, with Mariners
Refreshed from kegs not coopered in this our world.
But what were these so near,
So neighbourly fancies to the spell that brought
The run of Ali Baba's Cave
Just for the saying 'Open Sesame,'
With gold to measure, peck by peck,
In round, brown wooden stoups
You borrowed at the chandler's? . . . Or one time
Made you Aladdin's friend at school,
Free of his Garden of Jewels, Ring and Lamp
In perfect trim? . . . Or Ladies, fair
For all the embrowning scars in their white breasts
Went labouring under some dread ordinance,
Which made them whip, and bitterly cry the while,
Strange Curs that cried as they,
Till there was never a Black Bitch of all
Your consorting but might have gone
Spell-driven miserably for crimes
Done in the pride of womanhood and desire . . .
Or at the ghostliest altitudes of night,
While you lay wondering and acold,
Your sense was fearfully purged; and soon
Queen Labe, abominable and dear,
Rose from your side, opened the Box of Doom,
Scattered the yellow powder (which I saw
Like sulphur at the Docks in bulk),
And muttered certain words you could not hear;
And there! a living stream,
The brook you bathed in, with its weeds and flags
And cresses, glittered and sang
Out of the hearthrug over the nakedness,
Fair-scrubbed and decent, of your bedroom floor! . . .
I was--how many a time!--
That Second Calendar, Son of a King,
On whom 'twas vehemently enjoined,
Pausing at one mysterious door,
To pry no closer, but content his soul
With his kind Forty. Yet I could not rest
For idleness and ungovernable Fate.
And the Black Horse, which fed on sesame
(That wonder-working word!),
Vouchsafed his back to me, and spread his vans,
And soaring, soaring on
From air to air, came charging to the ground
Sheer, like a lark from the midsummer clouds,
And, shaking me out of the saddle, where I sprawled
Flicked at me with his tail,
And left me blinded, miserable, distraught
(Even as I was in deed,
When doctors came, and odious things were done
On my poor tortured eyes
With lancets; or some evil acid stung
And wrung them like hot sand,
And desperately from room to room
Fumble I must my dark, disconsolate way),
To get to Bagdad how I might. But there
I met with Merry Ladies. O you three--
Safie, Amine, Zobeide--when my heart
Forgets you all shall be forgot!
And so we supped, we and the rest,
On wine and roasted lamb, rose-water, dates,
Almonds, pistachios, citrons. And Haroun
Laughed out of his lordly beard
On Giaffar and Mesrour (I knew the Three
For all their Mossoul habits). And outside
The Tigris, flowing swift
Like Severn bend for bend, twinkled and gleamed
With broken and wavering shapes of stranger stars;
The vast, blue night
Was murmurous with peris' plumes
And the leathern wings of genies; words of power
Were whispering; and old fishermen,
Casting their nets with prayer, might draw to shore
Dead loveliness: or a prodigy in scales
Worth in the Caliph's Kitchen pieces of gold:
Or copper vessels, stopped with lead,
Wherein some Squire of Eblis watched and railed,
In durance under potent charactry
Graven by the seal of Solomon the King . . .
Then, as the Book was glassed
In Life as in some olden mirror's quaint,
Bewildering angles, so would Life
Flash light on light back on the Book; and both
Were changed. Once in a house decayed
From better days, harbouring an errant show
(For all its stories of dry-rot
Were filled with gruesome visitants in wax,
Inhuman, hushed, ghastly with Painted Eyes),
I wandered; and no living soul
Was nearer than the pay-box; and I stared
Upon them staring--staring. Till at last,
Three sets of rafters from the streets,
I strayed upon a mildewed, rat-run room,
With the two Dancers, horrible and obscene,
Guarding the door: and there, in a bedroom-set,
Behind a fence of faded crimson cords,
With an aspect of frills
And dimities and dishonoured privacy
That made you hanker and hesitate to look,
A Woman with her litter of Babes--all slain,
All in their nightgowns, all with Painted Eyes
Staring--still staring; so that I turned and ran
As for my neck, but in the street
Took breath. The same, it seemed,
And yet not all the same, I was to find,
As I went up! For afterwards,
Whenas I went my round alone--
All day alone--in long, stern, silent streets,
Where I might stretch my hand and take
Whatever I would: still there were Shapes of Stone,
Motionless, lifelike, frightening--for the Wrath
Had smitten them; but they watched,
This by her melons and figs, that by his rings
And chains and watches, with the hideous gaze,
The Painted Eyes insufferable,
Now, of those grisly images; and I
Pursued my best-beloved quest,
Thrilled with a novel and delicious fear.
So the night fell--with never a lamplighter;
And through the Palace of the King
I groped among the echoes, and I felt
That they were there,
Dreadfully there, the Painted staring Eyes,
Hall after hall . . . Till lo! from far
A Voice! And in a little while
Two tapers burning! And the Voice,
Heard in the wondrous Word of God, was--whose?
Whose but Zobeide's,
The lady of my heart, like me
A True Believer, and like me
An outcast thousands of leagues beyond the pale! . . .
Or, sailing to the Isles
Of Khaledan, I spied one evenfall
A black blotch in the sunset; and it grew
Swiftly . . . and grew. Tearing their beards,
The sailors wept and prayed; but the grave ship,
Deep laden with spiceries and pearls, went mad,
Wrenched the long tiller out of the steersman's hand,
And, turning broadside on,
As the most iron would, was haled and sucked
Nearer, and nearer yet;
And, all awash, with horrible lurching leaps
Rushed at that Portent, casting a shadow now
That swallowed sea and sky; and then,
Anchors and nails and bolts
Flew screaming out of her, and with clang on clang,
A noise of fifty stithies, caught at the sides
Of the Magnetic Mountain; and she lay,
A broken bundle of firewood, strown piecemeal
About the waters; and her crew
Passed shrieking, one by one; and I was left
To drown. All the long night I swam;
But in the morning, O, the smiling coast
Tufted with date-trees, meadowlike,
Skirted with shelving sands! And a great wave
Cast me ashore; and I was saved alive.
So, giving thanks to God, I dried my clothes,
And, faring inland, in a desert place
I stumbled on an iron ring--
The fellow of fifty built into the Quays:
When, scenting a trap-door,
I dug, and dug; until my biggest blade
Stuck into wood. And then,
The flight of smooth-hewn, easy-falling stairs,
Sunk in the naked rock! The cool, clean vault,
So neat with niche on niche it might have been
Our beer-cellar but for the rows
Of brazen urns (like monstrous chemist's jars)
Full to the wide, squat throats
With gold-dust, but a-top
A layer of pickled-walnut-looking things
I knew for olives! And far, O, far away,
The Princess of China languished! Far away
Was marriage, with a Vizier and a Chief
Of Eunuchs and the privilege
Of going out at night
To play--unkenned, majestical, secure--
Where the old, brown, friendly river shaped
Like Tigris shore for shore! Haply a Ghoul
Sat in the churchyard under a frightened moon,
A thighbone in his fist, and glared
At supper with a Lady: she who took
Her rice with tweezers grain by grain.
Or you might stumble--there by the iron gates
Of the Pump Room--underneath the limes--
Upon Bedreddin in his shirt and drawers,
Just as the civil Genie laid him down.
Or those red-curtained panes,
Whence a tame cornet tenored it throatily
Of beer-pots and spittoons and new long pipes,
Might turn a caravansery's, wherein
You found Noureddin Ali, loftily drunk,
And that fair Persian, bathed in tears,
You'd not have given away
For all the diamonds in the Vale Perilous
You had that dark and disleaved afternoon
Escaped on a roc's claw,
Disguised like Sindbad--but in Christmas beef!
And all the blissful while
The schoolboy satchel at your hip
Was such a bulse of gems as should amaze
Grey-whiskered chapmen drawn
From over Caspian: yea, the Chief Jewellers
Of Tartary and the bazaars,
Seething with traffic, of enormous Ind.--
Thus cried, thus called aloud, to the child heart
The magian East: thus the child eyes
Spelled out the wizard message by the light
Of the sober, workaday hours
They saw, week in week out, pass, and still pass
In the sleepy Minster City, folded kind
In ancient Severn's arm,
Amongst her water-meadows and her docks,
Whose floating populace of ships--
Galliots and luggers, light-heeled brigantines,
Bluff barques and rake-hell fore-and-afters--brought
To her very doorsteps and geraniums
The scents of the World's End; the calls
That may not be gainsaid to rise and ride
Like fire on some high errand of the race;
The irresistible appeals
For comradeship that sound
Steadily from the irresistible sea.
Thus the East laughed and whispered, and the tale,
Telling itself anew
In terms of living, labouring life,
Took on the colours, busked it in the wear
Of life that lived and laboured; and Romance,
The Angel-Playmate, raining down
His golden influences
On all I saw, and all I dreamed and did,
Walked with me arm in arm,
Or left me, as one bediademed with straws
And bits of glass, to gladden at my heart
Who had the gift to seek and feel and find
His fiery-hearted presence everywhere.
Even so dear Hesper, bringer of all good things,
Sends the same silver dews
Of happiness down her dim, delighted skies
On some poor collier-hamlet--(mound on mound
Of sifted squalor; here a soot-throated stalk
Sullenly smoking over a row
Of flat-faced hovels; black in the gritty air
A web of rails and wheels and beams; with strings
Of hurtling, tipping trams)--
As on the amorous nightingales
And roses of Shiraz, or the walls and towers
Of Samarcand--the Ineffable--whence you espy
The splendour of Ginnistan's embattled spears,
Like listed lightnings.
That name of names! That star-vaned belvedere
Builded against the Chambers of the South!
That outpost on the Infinite!
Questing therefrom, you knew not what wild tide
Might overtake you: for one fringe,
One suburb, is stablished on firm earth; but one
Floats founded vague
In lubberlands delectable--isles of palm
And lotus, fortunate mains, far-shimmering seas,
The promise of wistful hills--
The shining, shifting Sovranties of Dream.
In this Monody the author bewails a learned Friend, unfortunately
drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish Seas, 1637;
and, by occasion, foretells the ruin of our corrupted Clergy,
then in their height.
Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more,
Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,
And with forced fingers rude
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.
Bitter constraint and sad occasion dear
Compels me to disturb your season due;
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer.
Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his watery bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.
Begin, then, Sisters of the sacred well
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring;
Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string.
Hence with denial vain and coy excuse:
So may some gentle Muse
With lucky words favour my destined urn,
And as he passes turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud!
For we were nursed upon the self-same hill,
Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill;
Together both, ere the high lawns appeared
Under the opening eyelids of the Morn,
We drove a-field, and both together heard
What time the grey-fly winds her sultry horn,
Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the star that rose at evening bright
Toward heaven’s descent had sloped his westering wheel.
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute;
Tempered to the oaten flute,
Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel
From the glad sound would not be absent long;
And old Damoetas loved to hear our song.
But, oh! the heavy change, now thou art gone,
Now thou art gone and never must return!
Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods and desert caves,
With wild thyme and the gadding vine o’ergrown,
And all their echoes, mourn.
The willows, and the hazel copses green,
Shall now no more be seen
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.
As killing as the canker to the rose,
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear,
When first the white-thorn blows;
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd’s ear.
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Closed o’er the head of your loved Lycidas?
For neither were ye playing on the steep
Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream.
Ay me! I fondly dream
RHad ye been there,S . . . for what could that have done?
What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore,
The Muse herself, for her enchanting son,
Whom universal nature did lament,
When, by the rout that made the hideous roar,
His gory visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore?
Alas! what boots it with uncessant care
To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd’s trade,
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?
Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neaera’s hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights and live laborious days;
But, the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life. RBut not the praise,”
Phoebus replied, and touched my trembling ears:
RFame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies,
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed.”
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honoured flood,
Smooth-sliding Mincius, crowned with vocal reeds,
That strain I heard was of a higher mood.
But now my oat proceeds,
And listens to the Herald of the Sea,
That came in Neptune’s plea.
He asked the waves, and asked the felon winds,
What hard mishap hath doomed this gentle swain?
And questioned every gust of rugged wings
That blows from off each beaked promontory.
They knew not of his story;
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
That not a blast was from his dungeon strayed:
The air was calm, and on the level brine
Sleek Panope with all her sisters played.
It was that fatal and perfidious bark,
Built in the eclipse, and rigged with curses dark,
That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.
Next, Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow,
His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge,
Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge
Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe.
Ah! who hath reft,” quoth he, Rmy dearest pledge?”
Last came, and last did go,
The Pilot of the Galilean Lake;
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain.
(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain).
He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake:—
RHow well could I have spared for thee, young swain,
Enow of such as, for their bellies’ sake,
Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold!
Of other care they little reckoning make
Than how to scramble at the shearers’ feast,
And shove away the worthy bidden guest.
Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold
A sheep-hook, or have learnt aught else the least
That to the faithful herdman’s art belongs!
What recks it them? What need they? They are sped:
And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw;
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
But, swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread;
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing said.
But that two-handed engine at the door
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.”
Return, Alpheus; the dread voice is past
That shrunk thy streams; return Sicilian Muse,
And call the vales, and bid them hither cast
Their bells and flowerets of a thousand hues.
Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use
Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks,
On whose fresh lap the swart star sparely looks,
Throw hither all your quaint enamelled eyes,
That on the green turf suck the honeyed showers,
And purple all the ground with vernal flowers.
Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,
The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine,
The white pink, and the pansy freaked with jet,
The glowing violet,
The musk-rose, and the well-attired woodbine,
With cowslips wan that hang the pensive head,
And every flower that sad embroidery wears;
Bid amaranthus all his beauty shed,
And daffadillies fill their cups with tears,
To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid lies.
For so, to interpose a little ease,
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise,
Ay me! whilst thee the shores and sounding seas
Wash far away, where’er thy bones are hurled;
Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
Visit’st the bottom of the monstrous world;
Or whether thou, to our moist vows denied,
Sleep’st by the fable of Bellerus old,
Where the great Vision of the guarded mount
Looks toward Namancos and Bayona’s hold.
Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with ruth:
And, O ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth.
Weep no more, woeful shepherds, weep no more,
For Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor.
So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of Him that walked the waves,
Where, other groves and other streams along,
With nectar pure his oozy locks he laves,
And hears the unexpressive nuptial song,
In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and love.
There entertain him all the Saints above,
In solemn troops, and sweet societies,
That Sing, and singing in their glory move,
And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.
Now, Lycidas, the shepherds weep no more;
Henceforth thou art the Genius of the shore,
In thy large recompense, and shalt be good
To all that wander in that perilous flood.
Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and rills,
While the still morn went out with sandals grey:
He touched the tender stops of various quills,
With eager thought warbling his Doric lay:
And now the sun had stretched out all the hills,
And now was dropt into the western bay.
At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blue:
Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.
This worthy limitour, this noble Frere,
He made always a manner louring cheer countenance
Upon the Sompnour; but for honesty courtesy
No villain word as yet to him spake he:
But at the last he said unto the Wife:
"Dame," quoth he, "God give you right good life,
Ye have here touched, all so may I the, *thrive
In school matter a greate difficulty.
Ye have said muche thing right well, I say;
But, Dame, here as we ride by the way,
Us needeth not but for to speak of game,
And leave authorities, in Godde's name,
To preaching, and to school eke of clergy.
But if it like unto this company,
I will you of a Sompnour tell a game;
Pardie, ye may well knowe by the name,
That of a Sompnour may no good be said;
I pray that none of you be *evil paid; dissatisfied
A Sompnour is a runner up and down
With mandements* for fornicatioun, mandates, summonses
And is y-beat at every towne's end."
Then spake our Host; "Ah, sir, ye should be hend *civil, gentle
And courteous, as a man of your estate;
In company we will have no debate:
Tell us your tale, and let the Sompnour be."
"Nay," quoth the Sompnour, "let him say by me
What so him list; when it comes to my lot,
By God, I shall him quiten every groat! pay him off
I shall him telle what a great honour
It is to be a flattering limitour
And his office I shall him tell y-wis".
Our Host answered, "Peace, no more of this."
And afterward he said unto the frere,
"Tell forth your tale, mine owen master dear."
Notes to the Prologue to the Friar's tale
1. On the Tale of the Friar, and that of the Sompnour which
follows, Tyrwhitt has remarked that they "are well engrafted
upon that of the Wife of Bath. The ill-humour which shows
itself between these two characters is quite natural, as no two
professions at that time were at more constant variance. The
regular clergy, and particularly the mendicant friars, affected a
total exemption from all ecclesiastical jurisdiction, except that
of the Pope, which made them exceedingly obnoxious to the
bishops and of course to all the inferior officers of the national
hierarchy." Both tales, whatever their origin, are bitter satires
on the greed and worldliness of the Romish clergy.
Whilom there was dwelling in my country once on a time
An archdeacon, a man of high degree,
That boldely did execution,
In punishing of fornication,
Of witchecraft, and eke of bawdery,
Of defamation, and adultery,
Of churche-reeves, and of testaments, churchwardens
Of contracts, and of lack of sacraments,
And eke of many another manner crime, sort of
Which needeth not rehearsen at this time,
Of usury, and simony also;
But, certes, lechours did he greatest woe;
They shoulde singen, if that they were hent; caught
And smale tithers were foul y-shent, troubled, put to shame
If any person would on them complain;
There might astert them no pecunial pain.
For smalle tithes, and small offering,
He made the people piteously to sing;
For ere the bishop caught them with his crook,
They weren in the archedeacon's book;
Then had he, through his jurisdiction,
Power to do on them correction.
He had a Sompnour ready to his hand,
A slier boy was none in Engleland;
For subtlely he had his espiaille, espionage
That taught him well where it might aught avail.
He coulde spare of lechours one or two,
To teache him to four and twenty mo'.
For, -- though this Sompnour wood be as a hare, -- furious, mad
To tell his harlotry I will not spare,
For we be out of their correction,
They have of us no jurisdiction,
Ne never shall have, term of all their lives.
"Peter; so be the women of the stives," stews
Quoth this Sompnour, "y-put out of our cure." care
"Peace, with mischance and with misaventure,"
Our Hoste said, "and let him tell his tale.
Now telle forth, and let the Sompnour gale, whistle; bawl
Nor spare not, mine owen master dear."
This false thief, the Sompnour (quoth the Frere),
Had always bawdes ready to his hand,
As any hawk to lure in Engleland,
That told him all the secrets that they knew, --
For their acquaintance was not come of new;
They were his approvers privily. informers
He took himself at great profit thereby:
His master knew not always what he wan. won
Withoute mandement, a lewed man ignorant
He could summon, on pain of Christe's curse,
And they were inly glad to fill his purse,
And make him greate feastes at the nale. alehouse
And right as Judas hadde purses smale, small
And was a thief, right such a thief was he,
His master had but half *his duety. what was owing him
He was (if I shall give him his laud)
A thief, and eke a Sompnour, and a bawd.
And he had wenches at his retinue,
That whether that Sir Robert or Sir Hugh,
Or Jack, or Ralph, or whoso that it were
That lay by them, they told it in his ear.
Thus were the wench and he of one assent;
And he would fetch a feigned mandement,
And to the chapter summon them both two,
And pill* the man, and let the wenche go. plunder, pluck
Then would he say, "Friend, I shall for thy sake
Do strike thee out of oure letters blake; black
Thee thar no more as in this case travail; need
I am thy friend where I may thee avail."
Certain he knew of bribers many mo'
Than possible is to tell in yeare's two:
For in this world is no dog for the bow,
That can a hurt deer from a whole know,
Bet than this Sompnour knew a sly lechour, better
Or an adult'rer, or a paramour:
And, for that was the fruit of all his rent,
Therefore on it he set all his intent.
And so befell, that once upon a day.
This Sompnour, waiting ever on his prey,
Rode forth to summon a widow, an old ribibe,
Feigning a cause, for he would have a bribe.
And happen'd that he saw before him ride
A gay yeoman under a forest side:
A bow he bare, and arrows bright and keen,
He had upon a courtepy of green, short doublet
A hat upon his head with fringes blake. black
"Sir," quoth this Sompnour, "hail, and well o'ertake."
"Welcome," quoth he, "and every good fellaw;
Whither ridest thou under this green shaw?" shade
Saide this yeoman; "wilt thou far to-day?"
This Sompnour answer'd him, and saide, "Nay.
Here faste by," quoth he, "is mine intent
To ride, for to raisen up a rent,
That longeth to my lorde's duety."
"Ah! art thou then a bailiff?" "Yea," quoth he.
He durste not for very filth and shame
Say that he was a Sompnour, for the name.
"De par dieux," quoth this yeoman, "leve* brother, dear
Thou art a bailiff, and I am another.
I am unknowen, as in this country.
Of thine acquaintance I will praye thee,
And eke of brotherhood, if that thee list. please
I have gold and silver lying in my chest;
If that thee hap to come into our shire,
All shall be thine, right as thou wilt desire."
"Grand mercy," quoth this Sompnour, "by my faith." great thanks
Each in the other's hand his trothe lay'th,
For to be sworne brethren till they dey. die
In dalliance they ride forth and play.
This Sompnour, which that was as full of jangles, chattering
As full of venom be those wariangles, * butcher-birds
And ev'r inquiring upon every thing,
"Brother," quoth he, "where is now your dwelling,
Another day if that I should you seech?" *seek, visit
This yeoman him answered in soft speech;
Brother," quoth he, "far in the North country,
Where as I hope some time I shall thee see
Ere we depart I shall thee so well wiss, inform
That of mine house shalt thou never miss."
Now, brother," quoth this Sompnour, "I you pray,
Teach me, while that we ride by the way,
(Since that ye be a bailiff as am I,)
Some subtilty, and tell me faithfully
For mine office how that I most may win.
And *spare not for conscience or for sin, conceal nothing
But, as my brother, tell me how do ye."
Now by my trothe, brother mine," said he,
As I shall tell to thee a faithful tale:
My wages be full strait and eke full smale;
My lord is hard to me and dangerous, *niggardly
And mine office is full laborious;
And therefore by extortion I live,
Forsooth I take all that men will me give.
Algate by sleighte, or by violence, whether
From year to year I win all my dispence;
I can no better tell thee faithfully."
Now certes," quoth this Sompnour, "so fare I; do
I spare not to take, God it wot,
But if* it be too heavy or too hot. unless
What I may get in counsel privily,
No manner conscience of that have I.
N'ere* mine extortion, I might not live, were it not for
For of such japes will I not be shrive. tricks *confessed
Stomach nor conscience know I none;
I shrew* these shrifte-fathers every one. curse confessors
Well be we met, by God and by St Jame.
But, leve brother, tell me then thy name,"
Quoth this Sompnour. Right in this meane while
This yeoman gan a little for to smile.
"Brother," quoth he, "wilt thou that I thee tell?
I am a fiend, my dwelling is in hell,
And here I ride about my purchasing,
To know where men will give me any thing.
My purchase is th' effect of all my rent what I can gain is my
Look how thou ridest for the same intent sole revenue
To winne good, thou reckest never how,
Right so fare I, for ride will I now
Into the worlde's ende for a prey."
"Ah," quoth this Sompnour, "benedicite! what say y'?
I weened ye were a yeoman truly. thought
Ye have a manne's shape as well as I
Have ye then a figure determinate
In helle, where ye be in your estate?" *at home
"Nay, certainly," quoth he, there have we none,
But when us liketh we can take us one,
Or elles make you seem that we be shape believe
Sometime like a man, or like an ape;
Or like an angel can I ride or go;
It is no wondrous thing though it be so,
A lousy juggler can deceive thee.
And pardie, yet can I more craft than he." skill, cunning
"Why," quoth the Sompnour, "ride ye then or gon
In sundry shapes and not always in one?"
"For we," quoth he, "will us in such form make.
As most is able our prey for to take."
"What maketh you to have all this labour?"
"Full many a cause, leve Sir Sompnour,"
Saide this fiend. "But all thing hath a time;
The day is short and it is passed prime,
And yet have I won nothing in this day;
I will intend to winning, if I may, apply myself
And not intend our thinges to declare:
For, brother mine, thy wit is all too bare
To understand, although I told them thee.
But for* thou askest why laboure we: because
For sometimes we be Godde's instruments
And meanes to do his commandements,
When that him list, upon his creatures,
In divers acts and in divers figures:
Withoute him we have no might certain,
If that him list to stande thereagain. against it
And sometimes, at our prayer have we leave
Only the body, not the soul, to grieve:
Witness on Job, whom that we did full woe,
And sometimes have we might on both the two, --
This is to say, on soul and body eke,
And sometimes be we suffer'd for to seek
Upon a man and do his soul unrest
And not his body, and all is for the best,
When he withstandeth our temptation,
It is a cause of his salvation,
Albeit that it was not our intent
He should be safe, but that we would him hent. *catch
And sometimes be we servants unto man,
As to the archbishop Saint Dunstan,
And to th'apostle servant eke was I."
"Yet tell me," quoth this Sompnour, "faithfully,
Make ye you newe bodies thus alway
Of th' elements?" The fiend answered, "Nay:
Sometimes we feign, and sometimes we arise
With deade bodies, in full sundry wise,
And speak as reas'nably, and fair, and well,
As to the Pythoness did Samuel:
And yet will some men say it was not he.
I *do no force of your divinity. set no value upon
But one thing warn I thee, I will not jape, jest
Thou wilt *algates weet how we be shape: assuredly know
Thou shalt hereafterward, my brother dear,
Come, where thee needeth not of me to lear. learn
For thou shalt by thine own experience
Conne in a chair to rede of this sentence, learn to understand
Better than Virgil, while he was alive, what I have said
Or Dante also. Now let us ride blive, *briskly
For I will holde company with thee,
Till it be so that thou forsake me."
"Nay," quoth this Sompnour, "that shall ne'er betide.
I am a yeoman, that is known full wide;
My trothe will I hold, as in this case;
For though thou wert the devil Satanas,
My trothe will I hold to thee, my brother,
As I have sworn, and each of us to other,
For to be true brethren in this case,
And both we go *abouten our purchase. seeking what we
Take thou thy part, what that men will thee give, may pick up
And I shall mine, thus may we bothe live.
And if that any of us have more than other,
Let him be true, and part it with his brother."
"I grante," quoth the devil, "by my fay."
And with that word they rode forth their way,
And right at th'ent'ring of the towne's end,
To which this Sompnour shope* him for to wend, shaped go
They saw a cart, that charged was with hay,
Which that a carter drove forth on his way.
Deep was the way, for which the carte stood:
The carter smote, and cried as he were wood, mad
"Heit Scot! heit Brok! what, spare ye for the stones?
The fiend (quoth he) you fetch body and bones,
As farforthly as ever ye were foal'd, sure
So muche woe as I have with you tholed. endured
The devil have all, horses, and cart, and hay."
The Sompnour said, "Here shall we have a prey,"
And near the fiend he drew, *as nought ne were, as if nothing
Full privily, and rowned in his ear: were the matter
"Hearken, my brother, hearken, by thy faith, whispered
Hearest thou not, how that the carter saith?
Hent* it anon, for he hath giv'n it thee, seize
Both hay and cart, and eke his capels three." horses
"Nay," quoth the devil, "God wot, never a deal, whit
It is not his intent, trust thou me well;
Ask him thyself, if thou not trowest* me, believest
Or elles stint a while and thou shalt see." stop
The carter thwack'd his horses on the croup,
And they began to drawen and to stoop.
"Heit now," quoth he; "there, Jesus Christ you bless,
And all his handiwork, both more and less!
That was well twight, mine owen liart, boy, pulled *grey
I pray God save thy body, and Saint Loy!
Now is my cart out of the slough, pardie."
"Lo, brother," quoth the fiend, "what told I thee?
Here may ye see, mine owen deare brother,
The churl spake one thing, but he thought another.
Let us go forth abouten our voyage;
Here win I nothing upon this carriage."
When that they came somewhat out of the town,
This Sompnour to his brother gan to rown;
"Brother," quoth he, "here wons* an old rebeck, dwells
That had almost as lief to lose her neck.
As for to give a penny of her good.
I will have twelvepence, though that she be wood, mad
Or I will summon her to our office;
And yet, God wot, of her know I no vice.
But for thou canst not, as in this country,
Winne thy cost, take here example of me."
This Sompnour clapped at the widow's gate:
"Come out," he said, "thou olde very trate; trot
I trow thou hast some friar or priest with thee."
"Who clappeth?" said this wife; "benedicite,
God save you, Sir, what is your sweete will?"
"I have," quoth he, "of summons here a bill.
Up pain of cursing, looke that thou be upon
To-morrow before our archdeacon's knee,
To answer to the court of certain things."
"Now Lord," quoth she, "Christ Jesus, king of kings,
So wis1y helpe me, as I not may. surely *as I cannot
I have been sick, and that full many a day.
I may not go so far," quoth she, "nor ride,
But I be dead, so pricketh it my side.
May I not ask a libel, Sir Sompnour,
And answer there by my procuratour
To such thing as men would appose* me?" accuse
"Yes," quoth this Sompnour, "pay anon, let see,
Twelvepence to me, and I will thee acquit.
I shall no profit have thereby but lit: little
My master hath the profit and not I.
Come off, and let me ride hastily;
Give me twelvepence, I may no longer tarry."
"Twelvepence!" quoth she; "now lady Sainte Mary
So wisly help me out of care and sin, surely
This wide world though that I should it win,
No have I not twelvepence within my hold.
Ye know full well that I am poor and old;
Kithe your almes* upon me poor wretch." show your charity
"Nay then," quoth he, "the foule fiend me fetch,
If I excuse thee, though thou should'st be spilt." ruined
"Alas!" quoth she, "God wot, I have no guilt."
"Pay me," quoth he, "or, by the sweet Saint Anne,
As I will bear away thy newe pan
For debte, which thou owest me of old, --
When that thou madest thine husband cuckold, --
I paid at home for thy correction."
"Thou liest," quoth she, "by my salvation;
Never was I ere now, widow or wife,
Summon'd unto your court in all my life;
Nor never I was but of my body true.
Unto the devil rough and black of hue
Give I thy body and my pan also."
And when the devil heard her curse so
Upon her knees, he said in this mannere;
"Now, Mabily, mine owen mother dear,
Is this your will in earnest that ye say?"
"The devil," quoth she, "so fetch him ere he dey, die
And pan and all, but* he will him repent." unless
"Nay, olde stoat, that is not mine intent," polecat
Quoth this Sompnour, "for to repente me
For any thing that I have had of thee;
I would I had thy smock and every cloth."
"Now, brother," quoth the devil, "be not wroth;
Thy body and this pan be mine by right.
Thou shalt with me to helle yet tonight,
Where thou shalt knowen of our privity secrets
More than a master of divinity."
And with that word the foule fiend him hent. seized
Body and soul, he with the devil went,
Where as the Sompnours have their heritage;
And God, that maked after his image
Mankinde, save and guide us all and some,
And let this Sompnour a good man become.
Lordings, I could have told you (quoth this Frere),
Had I had leisure for this Sompnour here,
After the text of Christ, and Paul, and John,
And of our other doctors many a one,
Such paines, that your heartes might agrise, be horrified
Albeit so, that no tongue may devise, -- relate
Though that I might a thousand winters tell, --
The pains of thilke cursed house of hell that
But for to keep us from that cursed place
Wake we, and pray we Jesus, of his grace,
So keep us from the tempter, Satanas.
Hearken this word, beware as in this case.
The lion sits *in his await alway on the watch
To slay the innocent, if that he may.
Disposen aye your heartes to withstond
The fiend that would you make thrall and bond;
He may not tempte you over your might,
For Christ will be your champion and your knight;
And pray, that this our Sompnour him repent
Of his misdeeds ere that the fiend him hent.* *seize
Notes to the Friar's Tale
1. Small tithers: people who did not pay their full tithes. Mr
Wright remarks that "the sermons of the friars in the fourteenth
century were most frequently designed to impress the ahsolute
duty of paying full tithes and offerings".
2. There might astert them no pecunial pain: they got off with
no mere pecuniary punishment. (Transcriber's note: "Astert"
means "escape". An alternative reading of this line is "there
might astert him no pecunial pain" i.e. no fine ever escaped him
3. A dog for the bow: a dog attending a huntsman with bow
4. Ribibe: the name of a musical instrument; applied to an old
woman because of the shrillness of her voice.
5. De par dieux: by the gods.
6. See note 12 to the Knight's Tale.
7. Wariangles: butcher-birds; which are very noisy and
ravenous, and tear in pieces the birds on which they prey; the
thorn on which they do this was said to become poisonous.
8. Medieval legends located hell in the North.
9. The Pythoness: the witch, or woman, possesed with a
prophesying spirit; from the Greek, "Pythia." Chaucer of
course refers to the raising of Samuel's spirit by the witch of
10. Dante and Virgil were both poets who had in fancy visited
11. Tholed: suffered, endured; "thole" is still used in Scotland in
the same sense.
12. Capels: horses. See note 14 to the Reeve's Tale.
13. Liart: grey; elsewhere applied by Chaucer to the hairs of an
old man. So Burns, in the "Cotter's Saturday Night," speaks of
the gray temples of "the sire" -- "His lyart haffets wearing thin
14. Rebeck: a kind of fiddle; used like "ribibe," as a nickname
for a shrill old scold.
15. Trot; a contemptuous term for an old woman who has
trotted about much, or who moves with quick short steps.
16. In his await: on the watch; French, "aux aguets."
Budging the sluggard ripples of the Somme,
A barge round old Cérisy slowly slewed.
Softly her engines down the current screwed,
And chuckled softly with contented hum,
Till fairy tinklings struck their croonings dumb.
The waters rumpling at the stern subdued;
The lock-gate took her bulging amplitude;
Gently from out the gurgling lock she swum.
One reading by that calm bank shaded eyes
To watch her lessening westward quietly.
Then, as she neared the bend, her funnel screamed.
And that long lamentation made him wise
How unto Avalon, in agony,
Kings passed in the dark barge, which Merlin dreamed.
Oh! thou that roll’st above thy glorious Fire,
Round as the shield which grac’d my godlike Sire,
Whence are the beams, O Sun! thy endless blaze,
Which far eclipse each minor Glory’s rays?
Forth in thy Beauty here thou deign’st to shine!
Night quits her car, the twinkling stars decline;
Pallid and cold the Moon descends to cave
Her sinking beams beneath the Western wave;
But thou still mov’st alone, of light the Source—
Who can o’ertake thee in thy fiery course?
Oaks of the mountains fall, the rocks decay,
Weighed down with years the hills dissolve away.
A certain space to yonder Moon is given,
She rises, smiles, and then is lost in Heaven.
Ocean in sullen murmurs ebbs and flows,
But thy bright beam unchanged for ever glows!
When Earth is darkened with tempestuous skies,
When Thunder shakes the sphere and Lightning flies,
Thy face, O Sun, no rolling blasts deform,
Thou look’st from clouds and laughest at the Storm.
To Ossian, Orb of Light! thou look’st in vain,
Nor cans’t thou glad his agèd eyes again,
Whether thy locks in Orient Beauty stream,
Or glimmer through the West with fainter gleam—
But thou, perhaps, like me with age must bend;
Thy season o’er, thy days will find their end,
No more yon azure vault with rays adorn,
Lull’d in the clouds, nor hear the voice of Morn.
Exult, O Sun, in all thy youthful strength!
Age, dark unlovely Age, appears at length,
As gleams the moonbeam through the broken cloud
While mountain vapours spread their misty shroud—
The Northern tempest howls along at last,
And wayworn strangers shrink amid the blast.
Thou rolling Sun who gild’st those rising towers,
Fair didst thou shine upon my earlier hours!
I hail’d with smiles the cheering rays of Morn,
My breast by no tumultuous Passion torn—
Now hateful are thy beams which wake no more
The sense of joy which thrill’d my breast before;
Welcome thou cloudy veil of nightly skies,
To thy bright canopy the mourner flies:
Once bright, thy Silence lull’d my frame to rest,
And Sleep my soul with gentle visions blest;
Now wakeful Grief disdains her mild controul,
Dark is the night, but darker is my Soul.
Ye warring Winds of Heav’n your fury urge,
To me congenial sounds your wintry Dirge:
Swift as your wings my happier days have past,
Keen as your storms is Sorrow’s chilling blast;
To Tempests thus expos’d my Fate has been,
Piercing like yours, like yours, alas! unseen.
When life as opening buds is sweet,
And golden hopes the fancy greet,
And Youth prepares his joys to meet,--
Alas! how hard it is to die!
When just is seized some valued prize,
And duties press, and tender ties
Forbid the soul from earth to rise,--
How awful then it is to die!
When, one by one, those ties are torn,
And friend from friend is snatched forlorn,
And man is left alone to mourn,--
Ah then, how easy 'tis to die!
When faith is firm, and conscience clear,
And words of peace the spirit cheer,
And visioned glories half appear,--
'Tis joy, 'tis triumph then to die.
When trembling limbs refuse their weight,
And films, slow gathering, dim the sight,
And clouds obscure the mental light,--
'Tis nature's precious boon to die.
Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
That crown the watery glade,
Where grateful Science still adores
Her Henry’s holy shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor’s heights th’ expanse below
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along
His silver-winding way.
Ah happy hills, ah pleasing shade,
Ah fields beloved in vain,
Where once my careless childhood strayed,
A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales, that from ye blow,
A momentary bliss bestow,
As waving fresh their gladsome wing
My weary soul they seem to soothe,
And, redolent of joy and youth,
To breathe a second spring.
Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race
Disporting on thy margent green
The paths of pleasure trace,
Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?
The captive linnet which enthral?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle’s speed,
Or urge the flying ball?
While some on earnest business bent
Their murm’ring labours ply
‘Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint
To sweeten liberty:
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,
And unknown regions dare descry:
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,
And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possest;
The tear forgot as soon as shed,
The sunshine of the breast:
Theirs buxom health of rosy hue,
Wild wit, invention ever-new,
And lively cheer of vigour born;
The thoughtless day, the easy night,
The spirits pure, the slumbers light,
That fly th’ approach of morn.
Alas! regardless of their doom
The little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come,
Nor care beyond today:
Yet see how all around ’em wait
The Ministers of human fate,
And black Misfortune’s baleful train!
Ah, show them where in ambush stand,
To seize their prey, the murd’rous band!
Ah, tell them they are men!
These shall the fury Passions tear,
The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,
And Shame that skulks behind;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy with rankling tooth,
That inly gnaws the secret heart,
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visaged comfortless Despair,
And Sorrow’s piercing dart.
Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,
And grinning Infamy.
The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness’ altered eye,
That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
And keen Remorse with blood defiled,
And moody Madness laughing wild
Amid severest woe.
Lo, in the vale of years beneath
A grisly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,
More hideous than their Queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every labouring sinew strains,
Those in the deeper vitals rage:
Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,
And slow-consuming Age.
To each his suff’rings: all are men,
Condemned alike to groan;
The tender for another’s pain,
Th’ unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more;—where ignorance is bliss,
’Tis folly to be wise.