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Title: Accolon of Gaul - with Other Poems
Author: Cawein, Madison Julius, 1865-1914
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Accolon of Gaul - with Other Poems" ***

by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)












With all my Heart





Accolon of Gaul,                                                    1

Der Freischutz,                                                    65

To Revery,                                                         82

Late October,                                                      85

An Anemone,                                                        88

The Rain-Crow,                                                     90

Loveliness,                                                        92

The Last Scion of the House of Clare,                              95

On the Jellico-Spur,                                              105

Señorita,                                                         111

Leander to Hero,                                                  113

Musagetes,                                                        116

The Quarrel,                                                      118

The Mood o' the Earth,                                            119

A Gray Day,                                                       122

Carmen,                                                           125

Disenchantment of Death,                                          128

The Three Urgandas,                                               131

The Brush Sparrow,                                                135


I. Sleep while I sing to thee,                                    138

II. Floats a wild chant of morning,                               139

III. When love delays,                                            141

IV. Thou hast not loved her,                                      143

V. O Life,                                                        144

VI. If thou wouldst know the Beautiful,                           148

VII. Then up the Orient heights,                                  150

VIII. Vanishing Visions,                                          152

IX. As to a Nymph,                                                154

X. Ah! now the orchard's leaves are sear,                         157

Dead and Gone,                                                    158

A Mabinogi,                                                       159

Genius Loci,                                                      162


_With triumphs gay of old romance._--KEATS.


  Why, dreams from dreams in dreams remembered! naught
  Save this, alas! that once it seemed I thought
  I wandered dim with someone, but I knew
  Not who; most beautiful and good and true,
  Yet sad through suffering; with curl-crowned brow,
  Soft eyes and voice; so white she haunts me now:--
  And when, and where?--At night in dreamland.
  Led me athwart a flower-showered lea
  Where trammeled puckered pansy and the pea;
  Spread stains of pale-rod poppies rinced of rain,
  So gorged with sun their hurt hearts ached with pain;
  Heaped honeysuckles; roses lavishing beams,
  Wherein I knew were huddled little dreams
  Which laughed coy, hidden merriment and there
  Blew quick gay kisses fragrancing the air.
  And where a river bubbled through the sward
  A mist lay sleepily; and it was hard
  To see whence sprung it, to what seas it led,
  How broadly spread and what it was it fled
  So ceasless in its sighs, and bickering on
  Into romance or some bewildering dawn
  Of wisest legend from the storied wells
  Of lost Baranton, where old Merlin dwells,
  Nodding a white poll and a grand, gray beard
  As if some Lake Ladyé he, listening, heard,
  Who spake like water, danced like careful showers
  With blown gold curls thro' drifts of wild-thorn flowers;
  Loose, lazy arms in graceful movement tossed,
  Float flower-like down a woodland vista, lost
  In some peculiar note that wrings a tear
  Slow down his withered cheek. And then steals near
  Her sweet, lascivious brow's white wonderment,
  And gray rude eyes, and hair which hath the scent
  Of the wildwood Brécéliand's perfumes
  In Brittany; and in it one red bloom's
  Blood-drop thrust deep, and so "Sweet Viviane!"
  All the glad leaves lisp like a young, soft rain
  From top to top, until a running surge
  The dark, witch-haunted solitude will urge,
  That shakes and sounds and stammers as from sleep
  Some giant were aroused; and with a leap
  A samite-gauzy creature, glossy white,
  Showers mocking kisses fast and, like a light
  Beat by a gust to flutter and then done,
  From Brécéliande and Merlin she is gone.
  But still he sits there drowsing with his dreams;
  A wondrous cohort hath he; many as gleams
  That stab the moted mazes of a beech;
  And each grave dream hath its own magic speech
  To sting to tears his old eyes heavy--two
  Hang, tangled brilliants, in his beard like dew:
  And still faint murmurs of courts brave and fair,
  And forms of Arthur and proud Guenevere,
  Grave Tristram and rare Isoud and stout Mark,
  Bold Launcelot, chaste Galahad the dark
  Of his weak mind, once strong, glares up with, then,
  --The instant's fostered blossoms--die again.
  A roar of tournament, a rippling stir
  Of silken lists that ramble into her,
  That white witch-mothered beauty, Viviane,
  The vast Brécéliande and dreams again.
  Then Dagonet, King Arthur's fool, trips there,
  A waggish cunning; glittering on his hair
  A tinsel crown; and then will slightly sway
  Thick leaves and part, and there Morgane the Fay
  With haughty wicked eyes and lovely face
  Studies him steady for a little space.


  "Thou askest with thy studious eyes again,
  Here where the restless forest hears the main
  Toss in a troubled sleep and moan. Ah, sweet,
  With joy and passion the kind hour's replete;
  And what wild beauty here! where roughly run
  Huge forest shadows from the westering sun,
  The wood's a subdued power gentle as
  Yon tame wild-things, that in the moss and grass
  Gaze with their human eyes. Here grow the lines
  Of pale-starred green; and where yon fountain shines
  Urned in its tremulous ferns, rest we upon
  This oak-trunk of God's thunder overthrown
  Years, years agone; not where 'tis rotted brown
  But where the thick bark's firm and overgrown
  Of clambering ivy blackly berried; where
  Wild musk of wood decay just tincts the air,
  As if some strange shrub on some whispering way,
  In some dewed dell, while dreaming of one May,
  In longing languor weakly tried to wake
  One sometime blossom and could only make
  Ghosts of such dead aromas as it knew,
  And shape a specter, budding thin as dew,
  To haunt these sounding miles of solitude.
  Troubled thou askest, Morgane, and the mood,
  Unfathomed in thine eyes, glows rash and deep
  As that in some wild-woman's found on sleep
  By some lost knight upon a precipice,
  Whom he hath wakened with a laughing kiss.
  As that of some frail, elfin lady white
  As if of watery moonbeams, filmy dight,
  Who waves diaphanous beauty on some cliff
  That drowsing purrs with moon-drenched pines; but if
  The lone knight follow, foul fiends rise and drag
  Him crashing down, while she, tall on the crag,
  Triumphant mocks him with glad sorcery
  Till all the wildwood echoes shout with glee.
  As that bewildering mystery of a tarn,
  Some mountain water, which the mornings scorn
  To anadem with fire and leave gray;
  To which some champion cometh when the Day
  Hath tired of breding on his proud, young head
  Flame-furry blooms and, golden chapletéd,
  Sits rosy, trembling with full love for Night,
  Who cometh sandaled; dark in crape; the light
  Of her good eyes a marvel; her vast hair
  Tortuous with stars,--as in some shadowy lair
  The eyes of hunted wild things burn with rage,--
  And on large bosoms doth his love assuage.

  "He, coming thither in that haunted place,
  Stoops low to quaff cool waters, when his face
  Meets gurgling fairy faces in a ring
  That jostle upward babbling; beckoning
  Him deep to wonders secret built of old
  By some dim witch: 'A city walled with gold,
  With beryl battlements and paved with pearls,
  Slim, lambent towers wrought of foamy swirls
  Of alabaster, and that witch to love,
  More beautiful to love than queens above.'--
  He pauses troubled, but a wizard power,
  In all his bronzen harness that mad hour
  Plunges him--whither? what if he should miss
  Those cloudy beauties and that creature's kiss?
  Ah, Morgane, that same power Accolon
  Saw potent in thine eyes and it hath drawn
  Him deep to plunge--and to what breathless fate?--
  Bliss?--which, too true, he hath well quaffed of late!
  But, there!--may come what stealthy-footed Death
  With bony claws to clutch away his breath!
  And make him loveless to those eyes, alas!--
  Fain must I speak that vision; thus it was:

  "In sleep one plucked me some warm fleurs-de-lis,
  Larger than those of earth; and I might see
  Their woolly gold, loose, webby woven thro',--
  Like fluffy flames spun,--gauzy with fine dew.
  And 'asphodels!' I murmured; then, 'these sure
  The Eden amaranths, so angel pure
  That these alone may pluck them; aye and aye!
  But with that giving, lo, she passed away
  Beyond me on some misty, yearning brook
  With some sweet song, which all the wild air took
  With torn farewells and pensive melody
  Touching to tears, strange, hopeless utterly.
  So merciless sweet that I yearned high to tear
  Those ingot-cored and gold-crowned lilies fair;
  Yet over me a horror which restrained
  With melancholy presence of two pained
  And awful, mighty eyes that cowed and held
  Me weeping while that sad dirge died or swelled
  Far, far on endless waters borne away:
  A wild bird's musick smitten when the ray
  Of dawn it burned for graced its drooping head,
  And the pale glory strengthened round it dead;
  Daggered of thorns it plunged on, blind in night,
  The slow blood ruby on its plumage white.

  "Then, then I knew these blooms which she had given
  Were strays of parting grief and waifs of Heaven
  For tears and memories; too delicate
  For eyes of earth such souls immaculate!
  But then--my God! my God! thus these were left!
  I knew then still! but of that song bereft--
  That rapturous wonder grasping after grief--
  Beyond all thought--weak thought that would be thief."
  And bowed and wept into his hands and she
  Sorrowful beheld; and resting at her knee
  Raised slow her oblong lute and smote its chords;
  But ere the impulse saddened into words
  Said: "And didst love me as thy lips have spake
  No visions wrought of sleep might such love shake.
  Fast is all Love in fastness of his power,
  With flame reverberant moated stands his tower;
  Not so built as to chink from fact a beam
  Of doubt and much less of a doubt from dream;
  _Such_, the alchemic fires of Love's desires,
  Which hug this like a snake, melt to gold wires
  To chord the old lyre new whereon he lyres."
  So ceased and then, sad softness in her eye
  Sang to his dream a questioning reply:

      "Will love grow less when dead the roguish Spring,
      Who from gay eyes sowed violets whispering;
      Peach petals in wild cheeks, wan-wasted thro'
      Of withering grief, laid lovely 'neath the dew,
                    Will love grow less?

      "Will love grow less when comes queen Summer tall,
      Her throat a lily long and spiritual;
      Rich as the poppied swaths--droned haunts of bees--
      Her cheeks, a brown maid's gleaning on the leas,
                    Will love grow less?

      "Will love grow less when Autumn sighing there
      Broods with long frost streaks in her dark, dark hair;
      Tears in grave eyes as in grave heavens above,
      Deep lost in memories' melancholy, love,
                     Will love grow less?

      "Will love grow less when Winter at the door
      Begs on her scant locks icicles as hoar;
      While Death's eyes hollow o'er her shoulder dart
      A look to wring to tears then freeze the heart,
                     Will love grow less?"

  And in her hair wept softly and her breast
  Rose and was wet with tears; like as, distressed,
  Night steals on Day rain sobbing thro' her curls.
  "Tho' tears become thee even as priceless pearls,
  Weep not for love's sake! mine no gloom of doubt,
  But woe for sweet love's death such dreams brought out.
  Nay, nay; crowned, throned and flame-anointed he
  Kings our twin-kingdomed hearts eternally.
  Love, high in Heaven beginning and to cease
  No majesty when hearts are laid at peace;
  But reign supreme, if souls have wrought as well,
  A god in Heaven or a god in Hell.
  Yea, Morgane, for the favor of his face
  All our rich world of love I will retrace:

  "Hurt in that battle where thy brother strove
  With those five kings thou wot'st of, dearest love,
  Wherein the five were worsted, I was brought
  To some king's castle on my shield, methought,--
  Out of the grind of spears and roar of swords,
  From the loud shields of battle-bloody lords,
  Culled from the mountained slain where Havoc sprawled
  Gorged to her eyes with carnage, growling crawled;--
  By some tall damsels tiremaids of some queen
  Stately and dark, who moved as if a sheen
  Of starlight spread her presence; and she came
  With healing herbs and searched my wounds. A dame
  So marvelous in raiment silvery
  I feared lest some attendant chaste were she
  To that high Holy Grael, which Arthur hath
  Sought ever widely by hoar wood and path;--
  Thus not for me, a worldly one, to love,
  Who loved her even to wonder; skied above
  His worship as our moon above the Main,
  That passions upward yearning in great pain,
  And suffers wearily from year to year,
  She peaceful pitiless with virgin cheer.--
  Ah, ideal love, as merciless as fate!
  And, oh, that savage aching which must wait
  For its fulfillment, tortured love in tears,
  Until that beauty dreamed of many years
  Bends over one from luminous skies, so grand
  One's weakness fears to touch its mastering hand,
  And hesitates and stammers nothings weak,
  And loves and loves with love that can not speak!
  Ah, there's the tyranny that breeds despair;
  Breaks hearts whose strong youth by one golden hair
  Coiled 'round the throat is sooner strangled dumb
  Than by a glancing dagger thrust from gloom
  Of an old arras at the very hour
  One thought one safest in one's guarded tower.--
  Thus, Morgane, worshiping that lady I
  Was speechless; longing now to live, now die,
  As her fine face suggested secrets of
  Some passion kin to mine, or scorn of love
  That dragged heroic humbleness to her feet,
  For one long look that spake and made such sweet.
  Ah, never dreamed I of what was to be,--
  Nay! nay! how could I? while that agony
  Of doubtful love denied my heart too much,
  Too much to dream of that perfection such
  As was to grant me boisterous hours of life
  And sever all the past as with a knife!

  "One night a tempest scourged and beat and lashed
  The writhing forest and vast thunders crashed
  Clamorous with clubs of leven, and anon,
  Between the thunder pauses, seas would groan
  Like some enormous curse a knight hath lured
  From where it soared to maim it with his sword.
  I, with eyes partly lidded, seemed to see
  That cloudy, wide-wrenched night's eternity
  Yawn hells of golden ghastliness; and sweep
  Distending foams tempestuous up each steep
  Of furious iron, where pale mermaids sit
  With tangled hair black-blown, who, bit by bit,
  Chant glimmering; beckoning on to strangling arms
  Some hurt bark hurrying in the ravenous storm's
  Resistless exultation; till there came
  One breaker mounting inward, all aflame
  With glow-worm green, to boom against the cliff
  Its thunderous bulk--and there, sucked pale and stiff,
  Tumbled in eddies up the howling rocks
  My dead, drawn face; eyes lidless; matted locks
  Oozed close with brine; tossed upward merrily
  By streaming mermaids.--Madly seemed to see
  The vampire echoes of the hoarse wood, who,
  Collected, sought me; down the casement drew
  Wet, shuddering fingers sharply; thronging fast
  Up hooting turrets, fell thick screaming, cast
  Down bastioned battlements trooped whistling off;
  From the wild woodland growled a backward scoff.--
  Then far away, hoofs of a thousand gales,
  As wave rams wave up windy bluffs of Wales,
  Loosed from the groaning hills, the cohorts loud,
  Spirits of thunder, charioteered of cloud,
  Roared down the rocking night cored with the glare
  Of fiery eyeballs swimming; their drenched hair
  Blown black as rain unkempt back from black brows,
  Wide mouths of storm that voiced a hell carouse
  And bulged tight cheeks with wind, rolled riotous by
  Ruining to ruinous cliffs to headlong die.

  "Once when the lightning made the casement glare
  Squares touched to gold, between it rose her hair,
  As if a raven's wing had cut the storm
  Death-driven seaward; and a vague alarm
  Stung me with terrors of surmise where hope
  As yet pruned weak wings crippled by their scope.
  And, lo, she kneeled low, radiant, wonderful,
  Lawn-raimented and white; kneeled low,--'to lull
  These thoughts of night such storms might shape in thee,
  All such to peace and sleep,'--Ah, God! to see
  Her like a benediction fleshed! with her
  Hearing her voice! her cool hand wandering bare
  Wistful on feverish brow thro' long deep curls!
  To see her rich throat's carcaneted pearls
  Rise as her pulses! eyes' large influence
  Poured toward me straight as stars, whose sole defense
  Against all storm is their bold beauty! then
  To feel her breathe and hear her speak again!
  'Love, mark,' I said or dreamed I moaned in dreams,
  'How wails the tumult and the thunder gleams!
  As if of Arthur's knights had charged two fields
  Bright as sun-winds of dawn; swords, spears and shields
  Flashed lordly shocked; had,--to a man gone down
  In burst of battle hurled,--lain silent sown.
  Love, one eternal tempest thus with thee
  Were calm, dead calm! but, no!--for thee in me
  Such calm proves tempest. Speak; I feel thy voice
  Throb soft, caressing silence, healing noise.'

  "Is radiance loved of radiance? day of day?
  Lithe beam of beam and laughing ray of ray?
  Hope loved of hope and happiness of joy,
  Or love of love, who hath the world for toy?
  And thou--thou lov'st my voice? fond Accolon!
  Why not--yea, why not?--nay!--I prithee!--groan
  Not for that thou hast had long since thine all.'
  She smiled; and dashed down storm's black-crumbled wall,
  Baptizing moonlight bathed her, foot and face
  Deluging, as my soul brake toward her grace
  With worship from despair and secret grief,
  That felt hot tears of heartsease sweet and brief.
  And one immortal night to me she said
  Words, lay I white in death had raised me red.
  'Rest now,' they were, 'I love thee with _such_ love!--
  'Some speak of secret love, but God above
  Hath knowledge and divinement.'... Passionate low,
  'To lie by thee to-night my mind is':--So
  She laughed;--'Sleep well!--for me? why, thy fast word
  Of knighthood, look thou, and this naked sword
  Laid in betwixt us.... Let it be a wall
  Strong between love and lust and lov'st me all in all.'
  Undid the goodly gold from her clasped waist;
  Unbound deep locks; and, like a blossom faced,
  Stood sweet an unswayed stem that ran to bud
  In breasts and face a graceful womanhood.
  And fragrance was to her as natural
  As odor to the rose; and she a tall,
  White ardor and white fervor in the room
  Moved, some pale presence that with light doth bloom.
  Then all mine eyes and lips and limbs were fire;
  My tongue delirious throbbed a lawless lyre,
  That harped loud words of laud for loveliness,
  Inspired of such, but these I can not guess.
  Then she, as pure as snows of peaks that keep
  Sun-cloven crowns of virgin, vanquishing steep,
  Frowned on me, and the thoughts, that in my brain
  Had risen a glare of gems, set dull like rain,
  And fair I spake her and with civil pain:

  "'Thine, sweet, a devil's kindness which is given
  For earthly pleasure but bars out from Heaven.
  Temptation harbored, like a bloody rust
  On a bright blade, leaves ugly stains; and lust
  Is love's undoing when love's limbs are cast
  A commonness to desire that makes unchaste;
  And this warm nearness of what should be hid
  Makes love a lawless love. But, thou hast bid;--
  Rest thou; I love thee, how,--I only know:
  But all that love shall shout "out!" at love's foe.'
  And turning sighed into my hair; and she
  Stretched the broad blade's division suddenly.
  And so we lay its fire between us twain;
  Unsleeping I, for, oh, that devil pain
  Of passion in me that strove up and stood
  A rebel wrangling with the brain and blood!
  An hour stole by: she slept or seemed to sleep.
  The winds of night came vigorous from the deep
  With storm gusts of fresh-watered field and wold
  That breathed of ocean meadows bluely rolled.
  I drowsed and time passed; stealing as for one
  Whose drowsy life dreams in Avilion.
  Vast bulks of black, wind-shattered rack went down
  High casement squares of heaven, a crystal crown
  Of bubbled moonlight on each monstrous head,
  Like as great ghosts of giant kings long dead.
  And then, meseemed, she lightly laughed and sighed,
  So soft a taper had not bent aside,
  And leaned a soft face seen thro' loosened hair
  Above me, whisp'ring as if sweet in prayer,
  'Behold, the sword! I take the sword away!'
  It curved and clashed where the strewn rushes lay;
  Shone glassy, glittering like a watery beam
  Of moonlight in the moonlight. I did deem
  She moved in sleep and dreamed perverse, nor wist
  That which she did until two fierce lips kissed
  My wondering eyes to wakement of her thought.
  Then spake I, 'Love, my word! is it then naught?
  Nay, nay, my word albeit the sword be gone!--
  And wouldst thou try me? rest thou safe till dawn!
  I will not thus forswear! my word stands fast!'
  But now I felt hot, desperate kisses cast
  On hair, eyes, throat and lips and over and over,
  Low laughter of 'Sweet wretch! and thou--a lover?
  What is that word if she thou gavest it
  Unbind thee of it? lo, and she sees fit!'
  Ah, Morgane, Morgane, then I knew 'twas thou,
  Thou! thou! who only could such joy allow."

  "And, oh, unburied passion of that night;
  The sleepy birds too early piped of light;
  Too soon came Light girt with a rosy breeze,
  Strong from his bath, to wrestle with the trees,
  A thewy hero; and, alas! too soon
  Our scutcheoned oriel stained was overstrewn
  Of Dawn's air-jewels; then I sang a strain
  Of sleep that in my memory strives again:

  "Ethereal limbed the lovely Sleep should sit,
  Her starbeam locks with some vague splendor lit,
  Like that the glow-worm's emerald radiance sheds
  Thro' twilight dew-drops globed on lily-beds.
  Her face as fair as if of graven stone,
  Yet dim and airy us a cloud alone
  In the bare blue of Heaven, smiling sweet,
  For languorous thoughts of love that flit and fleet
  Short-rainbow-winged about her crumpled hair;
  Yet on her brow a pensiveness more fair,
  Ungraspable and sad and lost, I wist,
  Than thoughts of maiden whom her love hath kissed,
  Who knows, thro' deepening eyes and drowsy breath,
  Him weeping bent whiles she drifts on to death.
  Full sweet and sorrowful and blithe withal
  Should be her brow; not wholly spiritual,
  But tinged with mortal for the mortal mind,
  And smote with flushings from some Eden wind;
  Hinting at heart's ease and a god's desire
  Of pleasure hastening in a garb of fire
  From some dim country over storied seas
  Glassed of content and foamed of mysteries.
  Her ears two sea-pearls' morning-tender pink,
  And strung to harkening as if on a brink
  Night with profundity of death and doubt,
  Yet touched with awfulness of light poured out.
  Ears strung to palpitations of heart throbs
  As sea-shells waver with dim ocean sobs.
  One hand, curved like a mist on dusking skies,
  Hollowing smooth brows to shade dark velvet eyes,--
  Dark-lashed and dewed of tear-drops beautiful,--
  To sound the cowering conscience of the dull,
  Sleep-sodden features in their human rest,
  Ere she dare trust her pureness to that breast.
  Large limbs diaphanous and fleeced with veil
  Of wimpled heat, wove of the pulsing pale
  Of rosy midnight, and stained thro' with stars
  In golden cores; clusters of quivering bars
  Of nebulous gold, twined round her fleecily.
  A lucid shape vague in vague mystery.
  Untrammeled bosoms swelling free and white
  And prodigal of balm; cupped lilies bright,
  That to the famished mind yield their pure, best,
  Voluptuous sleep like honey sucked in rest."

  Thus they communed. And there her castle stood
  With slender towers ivied o'er the wood;
  An ancient chapel creeper-buried near;
  A forest vista, where faint herds of deer
  Stalked like soft shadows; where the hares did run,
  Mavis and throstle caroled in the sun.
  For it was Morgane's realm, embowered Gore;
  That rooky pile her palace whence she bore
  With Urience sway; but he at Camelot
  Knew naught of intrigues here at Chariot.


  Noon; and the wistful Autumn sat among
  The lurid woodlands; chiefs who now were wrung
  By crafty ministers, sun, wind and frost,
  To don imperial pomp at any cost.
  On each wild hill they stood as if for war
  Flaunting barbaric raiment wide and far;
  And burnt-out lusts in aged faces raged;
  Their tottering state by flattering zephyrs paged,
  Who in a little fretful while, how soon!
  Would work rebellion under some wan moon;
  Pluck their old beards deriding; shriek and tear
  Rich royalty; sow tattered through the air
  Their purple majesty; and from each head
  Dash down its golden crown, and in its stead
  Set there a pale-death mockery of snow,
  Leave them bemoaning beggars bowed with woe.
  Blow, wood-wind, blow! now that all's fresh and fine
  As earth and wood can make it; fresh as brine
  And rare with sodden scents of underbrush.
  Ring, and one hears a cavalcade a-rush;
  Bold blare of horns; shrill music of steel bows;--
  A horn! a horn! the hunt is up and goes
  Beneath the acorn-dropping oaks in green,--
  Dark woodland green, a boar-spear held between
  His selle and hunter's head, and at his thigh
  A good, broad hanger, and one fist on high
  To wind the rapid echoes from his horn,
  That start the field birds from the sheavéd corn,
  Uphurled in vollies of audacious wings,
  That cease again when it no longer sings.
  Away, away, they flash a belted band
  From Camelot thro' that haze-ghostly land;
  Hounds leashed and leamers and a flash of steel,
  A tramp of horse and the long-baying peal
  Of stag hounds whimp'ring and--behold! the hart,
  A lordly height, doth from the covert dart;
  And the big blood-hounds strain unto the chase.
  A-hunt! a-hunt! the _pryce_ seems but a pace
  On ere 'tis wound; but now, where interlace
  The dense-briered underwoods, the hounds have lost
  The slot, there where a forest brook hath crossed
  With intercepting waters full of leaves.
  Beyond, the hart a tangled labyrinth weaves
  Thro' dimmer boscage, and the wizard sun
  Shapes many shadowy stags that seem to run
  Wild herds before the baffled foresters.
  And treed aloft a reckless laugh one hears,
  As if some helping goblin from the trees
  Mocked them the unbayed hart and made a breeze
  His pursuivant of mocking. Hastening thence
  Pursued King Arthur and King Urience
  With one small brachet, till scarce hear could they
  Their fellowship far-furthered course away
  On fresher trace of hind or rugged boar
  With haggard, hairy flanks, curled tusks and hoar
  With fierce foam-fury; and of these bereft
  The kings continued in the slot they'd left.
  And there the hart plunged gallant thro' the brake
  Leaving a torn path shaking in his wake,
  Down which they followed on thro' many a copse
  Above whose brush, close on before, the tops
  Of the large antlers swelled anon, and so
  Were gone where beat the brambles to and fro.
  And still they drave him hard; and ever near
  Seemed that great hart unwearied; and such cheer
  Still stung them to the chase. When Arthur's horse
  Gasped mightily and lunging in his course
  Lay dead, a lordly bay; and Urience
  Left his gray hunter dying near; and thence
  They held the hunt afoot; when suddenly
  Were they aware of a wide, roughened sea,
  And near the wood the hart upon the sward
  Bayed, panting unto death and winded hard.
  Right so the king dispatched him and the _pryce_
  Wound on his hunting bugle clearly thrice.

  As if each echo, which that wild horn's blast
  Waked from its sleep,--the quietude had cast
  Tender as mercy on it,--in a band
  Rose moving sounds of gladness hand in hand,
  Came twelve fair damsels, sunny in sovereign white,
  From that red woodland gliding. These each knight
  Graced with obeisance and "Our lord," said one,
  "Tenders ye courtesy until the dawn;
  The Earl Sir Damas; well in his wide keep,
  Seen thither with due worship, ye shall sleep."
  And then they came o'erwearied to a hall,
  An owlet-haunted pile, whose weedy wall
  Towered based on crags rough, windy turrets high;
  An old, gaunt giant-castle 'gainst a sky
  Wherein the moon hung foam-faced, large and full.
  Down on dank sea-foundations broke the dull,
  Weird monotone of ocean, and wide rolled
  The watery wilderness that was as old
  As loud, defying headlands stretching out
  Beneath still stars with a voluminous shout
  Of wreck and wrath forever. Here the two
  Were feasted fairly and with worship due
  All errant knights, and then a damsel led
  Each knight with flaring lamp unto his bed
  Down separate corridores of that great keep;
  And soon they rested in a heavy sleep.

  And then King Arthur woke, and woke mid groans
  Of dolorous knights; and 'round him lay the bones
  Of many woful champions mouldering;
  And he could hear the open ocean ring
  Wild wasted waves above. And so he thought
  "It is some nightmare weighing me, distraught
  By that long hunt;" and then he sought to shake
  The horror off and to himself awake;
  But still he heard sad groans and whispering sighs,
  And deep in iron-ribbéd cells the eyes
  Of pale, cadaverous knights shone fixed on him
  Unhappy; and he felt his senses swim
  With foulness of that cell, and, "What are ye?
  Ghosts of chained champions or a company
  Of phantoms, bodiless fiends? If speak ye can,
  Speak, in God's name! for I am here--a man!"
  Then groaned the shaggy throat of one who lay
  A dusky nightmare dying day by day,
  Yet once of comely mien and strong withal
  And greatly gracious; but, now hunger-tall,
  With scrawny beard and faded hands and cheeks:
  "Sir knight," said he, "know that the wretch who speaks
  Is but an one of twenty knights here shamed
  Of him who lords this castle, Damas named,
  Who mews us here for slow starvation keen;
  Around you fade the bones of some eighteen
  Tried knights of Britain; and God grant that soon
  My hunger-lengthened ghost will see the moon,
  Beyond the vileness of this prisonment!"
  With that he sighed and round the dungeon went
  A rustling sigh, like saddened sin, and so
  Another dim, thin voice complained their woe:--

  "He doth enchain us with this common end,
  That he find one who will his prowess bend
  To the attainment of his livelihood.
  A younger brother, Ontzlake, hath he; good
  And courteous, withal most noble, whom
  This Damas hates--yea, ever seeks his doom;
  Denying him to their estate all right
  Save that he holds by main of arms and might.
  And thro' puissance hath he some fat fields
  And one rich manor sumptuous, where he yields
  Belated knights host's hospitality.
  Then bold is Ontzlake, Damas cowardly.
  For Ontzlake would decide by sword and lance
  Body for body this inheritance;
  But Damas dotes on life so courageless;
  Thus on all knights perforce lays coward's stress
  To fight for him or starve. For ye must know
  That in his country he is hated so
  That no helm here is who will take the fight;
  Thus fortunes it our plight is such a plight."
  Quoth he and ceased. And wondering at the tale
  The King was thoughtful, and each faded, pale,
  Poor countenance still conned him when he spake:
  "And what reward if one this battle take?"
  "Deliverance for all if of us one
  Consent to be his party's champion.
  But treachery and he are so close kin
  We loathe the part as some misshapen sin,
  And here would rather dally on to death
  Than serving falseness save and slave our breath."

  "May God deliver you for mercy, sirs!"
  And right anon an iron noise he hears
  Of chains clanked loose and bars jarred rusty back,
  The heavy gate croak open; and the black
  Of that rank cell astonished was with light,
  That danced fantastic with the frantic night.
  One high torch sidewise worried by the gust
  Sunned that lorn den of hunger, death and rust,
  And one tall damsel vaguely vestured, fair
  With shadowy hair, poised on the rocky stair.
  And laughing on the King, "What cheer?" said she;
  "God's life! the keep stinks vilely! and to see
  So noble knights endungeoned hollowing here
  Doth pain me sore with pity--but, what cheer?"

  "Thou mockest us; for me the sorriest
  Since I was suckled; and of any quest
  To me the most imperiling and strange.--
  But what wouldst thou?" said Arthur. She, "A change
  I offer thee, through thee to these with thee,
  And thou but grant me in love's courtesy
  To fight for Damas and his livelihood.
  And if thou wilt not--look! thou seest this brood
  Of lean and dwindled bellies specter-eyed,
  Keen knights erst who refused me?--so decide."
  Then thought the King of the sweet sky, the breeze
  That blew delirious over waves and trees;
  Thick fields of grasses and the sunny earth
  Whose beating heat filled the red heart with mirth,
  And made the world one sovereign pleasure house
  Where king and serf might revel and carouse;
  Then of the hunt on autumn-plaintive hills;
  Lone forest chapels by their radiant rills:
  His palace rich at Caerlleon upon Usk,
  And Camelot's loud halls that thro' the dusk
  Blazed far and bloomed a rose of revelry;
  Or in the misty morning shadowy
  Loomed grave for audience. And then he thought
  Of his Round Table and that Grael wide sought
  In haunted holds on demon-sinful shore;
  Then marveled of what wars would rise and roar
  With dragon heads unconquered and devour
  This realm of Britain and pluck up that flower
  Of chivalry whence ripened his renown:
  And then the reign of some besotted crown,
  A bandit king of lust, idolatry--
  And with that thought for tears he could not see:
  Then of his greatest champions, King Ban's son,
  And Galahad and Tristram, Accolon:
  And then, ah God! of his dear Guenevere,
  And with that thought--to starve and moulder here?--
  For, being unfriend to Arthur and his court,
  Well wist he this grim Earl would bless that sport
  Of fortune which had fortuned him so well
  To have to starve his sovereign in a cell.--
  In the entombing rock where ground the deep;
  And all the life shut in his limbs did leap
  Thro' eager veins and sinews fierce and red,
  Stung on to action, and he rose and said:
  "That which thou askest is right hard, but, lo!
  To rot here harder; I will fight his foe.
  But, mark, I have no weapons and no mail,
  No steed against that other to avail."

  "Fear not for that; and thou shalt lack none, sire."
  And so she led the path: her torch's fire
  Scaring wild spidery shadows at each stride
  From cob-webbed coignes of scowling passes wide,
  That labyrinthed the rock foundation strong
  Of that ungainly fortress bleak of wrong.
  At length they came to a nail-studded door,
  Which she unlocked with one harsh key she bore
  Mid many keys bunched at her girdle; thence
  They issued on a terraced eminence.
  Beneath the sea broke sounding; and the King
  Breathed open air that had the smell and sting
  Of brine morn-vigored and blue-billowed foam;
  For in the East the second dawning's gloam,
  Since that unlucky chase, was freaked with streaks
  Red as the ripe stripes of an apple's cheeks.
  And so within that larger light of dawn
  It seemed to Arthur now that he had known
  This maiden at his court, and so he asked.
  But she, well-tutored, her real person masked,
  And answered falsely; "Nay, deceive thee not;
  Thou saw'st me ne'er at Arthur's court, I wot.
  For here it likes me best to sing and spin
  And work the hangings my sire's halls within:
  No courts or tournaments or gallants brave
  To flatter me and love! for me--the wave,
  The forest, field and sky; the calm, the storm;
  My garth wherein I walk to think; the charm
  Of uplands redolent at bounteous noon
  And full of sunlight; night's free stars and moon;
  White ships that pass some several every year;
  These lonesome towers and those wild mews to hear."
  "An owlet maid!" the King laughed. But, untrue
  Was she, and of false Morgane's treasonous crew,
  Who worked vile wiles ev'n to the slaying of
  The King, half-brother, whom she did not love.
  And presently she brought him where in state
  This swarthy Damas with mailed cowards sate....

  King Urience that dawning woke and found
  Himself safe couched at Camelot and wound
  In Morgane's arms; nor weened he how it was
  That this thing secretly had come to pass.
  But Accolon at Chariot sojourned still
  Content with his own dreams; for 'twas the will
  Of Morgane thus to keep him hidden here
  For her desire's excess, where everywhere
  In Gore by wood and river pleasure houses,
  Pavilions, rose of rock for love carouses;
  And there in one, where 'twas her dearest wont
  To list a tinkling, falling water fount,--
  Which thro' sweet talks of idle paramours
  At sensuous ease on tumbled beds of flowers,
  Had caught a laughing language light thereof,
  And rambled ever gently whispering, "love!"--
  On cool white walls her hands had deftly draped
  A dark rich hanging, where were worked and shaped
  Her fullest hours of pleasure flesh and mind,
  Imperishable passions, which could wind
  The past and present quickly; and could mate
  Dead loves to kisses, and intoxicate
  With moon-soft words of past delight and song
  The heavy heart that wronged forgot the wrong.
  And there beside it pooled the urnéd well,
  And slipping thence thro' dripping shadows fell
  From rippling rock to rock. Here Accolon,
  With Morgane's hollow lute, one studious dawn
  Came solely; with not ev'n her brindled hound
  To leap beside him o'er the gleaming ground;
  No handmaid lovely of his loveliest fair,
  Or paging dwarf in purple with him there;
  But this her lute, about which her perfume
  Clung odorous of memories, that made bloom
  Her flowing features rosy to his eyes,
  That saw the words, his sense could but surmise,
  Shaped on dim, breathing lips; the laugh that drunk
  Her deep soul-fire from eyes wherein it sunk
  And slowly waned away to smouldering dreams,
  Fathomless with thought, far in their dove-gray gleams.
  And so for those most serious eyes and lips,
  Faint, filmy features, all the music slips
  Of buoyant being bubbling to his voice
  To chant her praises; and with nervous poise
  His fleet, trained fingers call from her long lute
  Such riotous notes as must make madly mute
  The nightingale that listens quivering.
  And well he knows that winging hence it'll sing
  These aching notes, whose beauties burn and pain
  Its anguished heart now sobless, not in vain
  Wild 'neath her casement in that garden old
  Dingled with heavy roses; in the gold
  Of Camelot's stars and pearl-encrusted moon;
  And if it dies, the heartache of the tune
  Shall clamor stormy passion at her ear,
  Of death more dear than life if love be there;
  Melt her quick eyes to tears, her throat to sobs
  Tumultuous heaved, while separation throbs
  Hard at her heart, and longing rears to Death
  Two prayerful eyes of pleading "for one breath--
  An ardor of fierce life--crushed in his arms
  Close, close! and, oh, for such, all these smooth charms,
  Full, sentient charms voluptuous evermore!"
  And sweet to know these sensitive vows shall soar
  Ev'n to the dull ear of her drowsy lord
  Beside her; heart-defying with each word
  Harped in the bird's voice rhythmically clear.
  And thus he sang to her who was not there:

      "She comes! her presence, like a moving song
      Breathed soft of loveliest lips and lute-like tongue,
        Sways all the gurgling forests from their rest:
        I fancy where her rustling foot is pressed,
      So faltering, love seems timid, but how strong
        That darling love that flutters in her breast!

      "She comes! and the green vistas are stormed thro'--
      As if wild wings, wet-varnished with dripped dew,
        Had dashed a sudden sunbeam tempest past,
        --With her eyes' inspiration clearly chaste;
      A rhythmic lavishment of bright gray blue,
        Long arrows of her eyes perfection cast.

      "Ah, God! she comes! and, Love, I feel thy breath,
      Like the soft South who idly wandereth
        Thro' musical leaves of laughing laziness,
        Page on before her, how sweet--none can guess!
      To say my soul 'Here's harmony dear as death
        To sigh wild vows, or utterless, to bless.'

      "She comes! ah, God! and all my brain is brave
      To war for words to laud her and to lave
        Her queenly beauty in such vows whereof
        May hush melodious cooings of a dove:
      For her light feet the favored path to pave
        With oaths, like roses, raving mad with love.

      "She comes! in me a passion--as the moon
      Works madness in strong men--my blood doth swoon
        Towards her glory; and I feel her soul
        Cling lip to lip with mine; and now the whole
      Mix with me, aching like a tender tune
        Exhausted; lavished in a god's control.

      "She comes! ah, Christ! ye eager stars that grace
      The fragmentary skies, that dimple space,
        Clink, and I hear her harp-sweet footfalls come:
        Ah, wood-indulging, violet-vague perfume,
      Art of her presence, of her wild-flower face,
        That like some gracious blossom stains the gloom?

      "Oh, living exultation of the blood!
      That now--as sunbursts, the almighty mood
        Of some moved god, scatter the storm that roars,
        And hush--her love like some spent splendor pours
      Into it all immaculate maidenhood,
        And all the heart that hesitates--adores.

      "Vanquished! so vanquished!--ah, triumphant sweet!
      The height of heaven--supine at thy feet!
        Where love feasts crowned, and basks in such a glare
        As hearts of suns burn, in thine eyes and hair,
      Unutterable with raveled fires that cheat
        The ardent clay of me and make me air.

      "And so, rare witch, thy blood, like some lewd wine,
      Shall subtly make me, like thee, half divine;
        And,--sweet rebellion!--clasp thee till thou urge
        To combat close of savage kisses: surge
      A war that rubies all thy proud cheeks' shine,--
        Slain, struggling blushes,--till white truce emerge.

      "My life for thine, thus bartered lip to lip!
      A striving being pulsant, that shall slip
        Like song and flame in sense from thee to me;
        Nor held, but quick rebartered thence to thee:
      So our two loves be as a singleship,
        Ten thousand loves as one eternally."

  Babbled the woodland like a rocky brook;
  And as the ecstacy of foliage shook,
  Hot pieces of bright, sunny heavens glanced
  Like polished silver thro' pale leaves that danced.
  As one hath seen some green-gowned huntress fair,
  Morn in her cheeks and midnight in her hair,
  Eyes clear as hollow dews; clean limbs as lithe
  As limbs swift morning moves; a voice as blithe
  As high hawk's ringing thro' the falling dews;
  Pant thro' the bramble-matted avenues,--
  Where brier and thorn have gashed her gown's pinched green,
  About bright breasts and arms, the milky sheen
  Of white skin healthy pouting out; her face,
  Ardent and flushed, fixed on the lordly chase.


  The eve now came; and shadows cowled the way
  Like somber palmers, who have kneeled to pray
  Beside a wayside shrine, and rosy rolled
  Up the capacious West a grainy gold,
  Luxuriant fluid, burned thro' strong, keen skies,
  Which seemed as towering gates of Paradise
  Surged dim, far glories on the hungry gaze.
  And from that sunset down the roseate ways,
  To Accolon, who with his idle lute,
  Reclined in revery against a root
  Of a great oak, a fragment of that West,
  A dwarf, in crimson satin tightly dressed,
  Skipped like a leaf the rather frosts have burned
  And cozened to a fever red, that turned
  And withered all its sap. And this one came
  From Camelot; from his beloved dame,
  Morgane the Fay. He on his shoulder bore
  A burning blade wrought strange with wizard lore,
  Runed mystically; and a scabbard which
  Glared venomous, with angry jewels rich.
  He, louting to the knight, "Sir knight," said he,
  "Your lady with all sweetest courtesy
  Assures you--ah, unworthy messenger
  I of such brightness!--of that love of her."
  Then doffing that great baldric, with the sword
  To him he gave: "And this from him, my lord
  King Arthur; even his Excalibur,
  The sovereign blade, which Merlin gat of her,
  The Ladye of the Lake, who Launcelot
  Fostered from infanthood, as well you wot,
  In some wierd mere in Briogn's tangled lands
  Of charms and mist; where filmy fairy bands
  By lazy moons of Autumn spin their fill
  Of giddy morrice on the frosty hill.
  By goodness of her favor this is sent;
  Who craved King Arthur boon with this intent:
  That soon for her a desperate combat one
  With one of mightier prowess were begun;
  And with the sword Excalibur right sure
  Were she against that champion to endure.
  The blade flame-trenchant, but more prize the sheath
  Which stauncheth blood and guardeth from all death."
  He said: and Accolon looked on the sword,
  A mystic falchion, and, "It shall wend hard
  With him thro' thee, unconquerable blade,
  Whoe'er he be, who on my Queen hath laid
  Stress of unworship: and the hours as slow
  As palsied hours in Purgatory go
  For those unmassed, till I have slain this foe!
  My purse, sweet page; and now--to her who gave,
  Dispatch! and this:--to all commands--her slave,
  To death obedient. In love or war
  Her love to make me all the warrior.
  Plead her grace mercy for so long delay
  From love that dies an hourly death each day
  Till her white hands kissed he shall kiss her face,
  By which his life breathes in continual grace."
  Thus he commanded; and incontinent
  The dwarf departed like a red ray sent
  From rich down-flowering clouds of suffused light
  Winged o'er long, purple glooms; and with the night,
  Whose votaress cypress stoled the dying strife
  Softly of day, and for whose perished life
  Gave heaven her golden stars, in dreamy thought
  Wends Accolon to hazy Chariot.

  And it befell him; wandering one dawn,
  As was his wont, across a dew-drenched lawn,
  Glad with night freshness and elastic health
  In sky and earth that lavished worlds of wealth
  From heady breeze and racy smells, a knight
  And lofty lady met he; gay bedight,
  With following of six esquires; and they
  Held on straight wrists the jess'd gerfalcon gray,
  And rode a-hawking o'er the leas of Gore
  From Ontzlake's manor, where he languished; sore
  Hurt in the lists, a spear thrust in his thigh:
  Who had besought--for much he feared to die--
  This knight and his fair lady, as they rode
  To hawk near Chariot, the Queen's abode,
  That they would pray her in all charity
  Fare post to him,--for in chirurgery
  Of all that land she was the greatest leach,--
  And her to his recovery beseech.
  So, Accolon saluted, they drew rein,
  And spake their message,--for right over fain
  Were they toward their sport,--that he might bare
  Petition to that lady. But, not there
  Was Arthur's sister, as they well must wot;
  But now a se'nnight lay at Camelot,
  Of Guenevere the guest; and there with her
  Four other queens of farther Britain were:
  Isoud of Ireland, she of Cornwall Queen,
  King Mark's wife; who right rarely then was seen
  At court for jealousy of Mark, who knew
  Her to that lance of Lyonesse how true
  Since mutual quaffing of a philter; while
  How guilty Guenevere on such could smile:
  She of Northgales and she of Eastland: and
  She of the Out Isles Queen. A fairer band
  For sovereignty and love and loveliness
  Was not in any realm to grace and bless.
  Then quoth the knight, "Ay? see how fortune turns
  And varies like an April day, that burns
  Now welkins blue with calm, now scowls them down,
  Revengeful, with a black storm's wrinkled frown.
  For, look, this Damas, who so long hath lain
  A hiding vermin, fearful of all pain,
  Dark in his bandit towers by the deep,
  Wakes from a five years' torpor and a sleep;
  So sends dispatch a courier to my lord
  With, 'Lo! behold! to-morrow with the sword
  Earl Damas by his knight at point of lance
  Decides the issue of inheritance,
  Body to body, or by champion.'
  Right hard to find such ere to-morrow dawn.
  Though sore bestead lies Ontzlake, and he could,
  Right fain were he to save his livelihood.
  Then mused Sir Accolon: "The adventure goes
  Ev'n as my Lady fashioneth; who knows
  But what her arts develop this and make?"
  And thus to those: "His battle I will take,--
  And he be so conditioned, harried of
  Estate and life,--in knighthood and for love.
  Conduct me thither."
              And, gramercied, then
  Mounted a void horse of that wondering train,
  And thence departed with two squires. And they
  Came to a lone, dismantled priory
  Hard by a castle gray on whose square towers,
  Machicolated, o'er the forest's bowers,
  The immemorial morning bloomed and blushed.
  A woodland manor olden, dark embushed
  In wild and woody hills. And then one wound
  An echoy horn, and with the boundless sound
  The drawbridge rumbled moatward clanking, and
  Into a paved court passed that little band....

  When all the world was morning, gleam and glare
  Of far deluging glory, and the air
  Sang with the wood-bird, like a humming lyre
  Swept bold of minstrel fingers wire on wire;
  Ere that fixed hour of prime came Arthur armed
  For battle royally. A black steed warmed
  A fierce impatience 'neath him cased in mail,
  Huge, foreign; and accoutered head to tail
  In costly sendal; rearward wine-dark red,
  Amber as sunlight to his fretful head.
  Firm, heavy armor blue had Arthur on
  Beneath a robe of honor, like the dawn,
  Satin and diapered and purflewed deep
  With lordly golden purple; whence did sweep
  Two hanging acorn tuftings of fine gold,
  And at his thigh a falchion, long and bold,
  Heavy and triple-edged; its scabbard, red
  Cordovan leather; thence a baldric led
  Of new cut deer-skin; this laborious wrought,
  And curiously with slides of gold was fraught,
  And buckled with a buckle white that shone,
  Bone of the sea-horse, tongued with jet-black bone.
  And, sapphire-set, a burgonet of gold
  Barbaric, wyvern-crested whose throat rolled
  A flame-sharp tongue of agate, and whose eyes
  Glowed venomous great rubies fierce of prize.
  And in his hand, a wiry lance of ash,
  Lattened with finest silver, like a flash
  Of sunlight in the morning shone a-gash.
  Clad was his squire most richly; he whose head
  Curled with close locks of yellow tinged to red:
  Of noble bearing; fair face; hawk eyes keen,
  And youthful, bearded chin. Right well beseen,
  Scarfed with blue satin; on his shoulder strong
  One broad gold brooch chased strangely, thick and long.
  His legs in hose of rarest Totness clad,
  And parti-colored leathern shoes he had
  Gold-latched; and in his hand a bannered spear
  Speckled and bronzen sharpened in the air.

  So with his following, while lay like scars
  The blue mist thin along the woodland bars,
  Thro' dew and fog, thro' shadow and thro' ray
  Joustward Earl Damas led the forest way.
  Then to King Arthur when arrived were these
  To where the lists shone silken thro' the trees,
  Bannered and draped, a wimpled damsel came,
  Secret, upon a palfrey all aflame
  With sweat and heat of hurry, and, "From her,
  Your sister Morgane, your Excalibur,
  With tender greeting: For ye well have need
  In this adventure of him. So, God speed!"
  And so departed suddenly: nor knew
  The king but this his weapon tried and true.
  But brittle this and fashioned like thereof,
  And false of baser metal, in unlove
  And treason to his life, of her of kin
  Half sister, Morgane--an unnatural sin.

  Then heralded into the lists he rode.
  Opposed flashed Accolon, who light bestrode,
  Exultant, proud in talisman of that sword,
  A dun horse lofty as a haughty lord,
  Pure white about each hollow, pasterned hoof.
  Equipped shone knight and steed in arms of proof,
  Dappled with yellow variegated plate
  Of Spanish laton. And of sovereign state
  His surcoat robe of honor white and black
  Of satin, red-silk needled front and back
  Then blackly bordered. And above his robe
  That two-edged sword,--a throbbing golden globe
  Of vicious jewels,--thrust its burning hilt,
  Its broad belt, tawny and with gold-work gilt,
  Clasped with the eyelid of a black sea-horse
  Whose tongue was rosy gold. And stern as Force
  His visored helmet burned like fire, of rich
  And bronzen laton hammered; and on which
  An hundred crystals glittered, thick as on
  A silver web bright-studding dews of dawn.
  The casque's tail crest a taloned griffin ramped,
  In whose horned brow one virtuous jewel stamped.
  An ashen spear round-shafted, overlaid
  With fine blue silver, whereon colors played,
  Firm in his iron gauntlet lithely swayed.

  Intense on either side an instant stood
  Glittering as serpents which, with Spring renewed,
  In glassy scales meet on some greening way,
  Angry advance, quick tongues at poisonous play.
  Then clanged a herald's clarion and sharp heels,
  Harsh-spurred, each champion's springing courser feels
  Touch to red onset; the aventured spears
  Hurled like two sun-bursts of a storm when clears
  Laborious thunders; and in middle course
  Shrieked shrill the unpierced shields; mailed horse from horse
  Lashed madly pawing--and a hoarse roar rang
  From buckram lists, till the wild echoes sang
  Of leagues on leagues of forest and of cliff.
  Rigid the proof-shelled warriors passed and stiff
  Whither their squires fresher spears upheld;
  Nor stayed to breathe; but scarcely firmly selled
  Launched deadly forward. Shield to savage shield
  Opposing; crest to crest, whose fronts did wield
  A towering war's unmercifulest scath;
  Rocking undaunted, glared wan withering wrath
  From balls of jeweled eyes, and raging stood
  Slim, slippery bodies, in the sun like blood.
  The lance of Accolon, as on a rock
  Long storm-launched foam breaks baffled, with the shock,
  On Arthur's sounding shield burst splintered force;
  But him resistless Arthur's,--high from horse
  Sell-lifted,--ruinous bare crashing on
  A long sword's length; unsaddled Accolon
  For one stunned moment lay. Then rising, drew
  The great sword at his hip, that shone like dew
  Fresh flashed in morn. "Descend;" he stiffly said,
  "To proof of better weapons head for head!
  Enough of spears, to swords!" and so the knight
  Addressed him to the King. Dismounting light,
  Arthur his moon-bright brand unsheathed, and high
  Each covering shield gleamed slanting to the sky,
  Relentless, strong, and stubborn; underneath
  Their wary shelters foined the glittering death
  Of stolid steel thrust livid arm to arm:
  As cloud to cloud growls up a soaring storm
  Above the bleak wood and lithe lightnings work
  Brave blades wild warring, in the black that lurk,
  Thus fenced and thrust--one tortoise shield descends,
  Leaps a fierce sword shrill,--like a flame which sends
  A long fang heavenward,--for a crushing stroke;
  Swings hard and trenchant, and, resounding heard,
  Sings surly helmward full; defiance reared
  Soars to a brother blow to shriek again
  Blade on brave blade. And o'er the battered plain,
  Forward and backward, blade on baleful blade,
  Teeth clenched as visors where the fierce eyes made
  A cavernous, smouldering fury, shield at shield,
  Unflinchingly remained and scorned to yield.

  So Arthur drew aside to rest upon
  His falchion for a pause; but Accolon
  As yet, thro' virtue of that magic sheath
  Fresh and almighty, being no nearer death
  Thro' loss of blood than when the trial begun,
  Chafed with delay. But Arthur with the sun,
  Its thirsty heat, the loss from wounds of blood,
  Leaned fainting weary and so resting stood.
  Cried Accolon, "Here is no time for rest!
  Defend thee!" and straight on the monarch pressed;
  "Defend or yield thee as one recreant!"
  Full on his helm a hewing blow did plant,
  Which beat a flying fire from the steel;
  Smote, like one drunk with wine, the King did reel,
  Breath, brain bewildered. Then, infuriate,
  Nerve-stung with vigor by that blow, in hate
  Gnarled all his strength into one stroke of might,
  And in both fists the huge blade knotted tight,
  Swung red, terrific to a sundering stroke.--
  As some bright wind that hurls th' uprooted oak,--
  Boomed full the beaten burgonet he wore:
  Hacked thro' and thro' the crest, and cleanly shore
  The golden boasting of its griffin fierce
  With hollow clamor down astounded ears:
  No further thence--but, shattered to the grass,
  That brittle blade, crushed as if made of glass,
  Into hot pieces like a broken ray
  Burst sunward and in feverish fragments lay.
  Then groaned the King unarmed; and so he knew
  This no Excalibur; that tried and true
  Most perfect tempered, runed and mystical.
  Sobbed, "_Oh, hell-false! betray me?_"-- Then withal
  Him seemed this foe, who fought with so much stress,
  So long untiring, and with no distress
  Of wounds or heat, through treachery bare his brand;
  And then he knew it by its hilt that hand
  Clutched to an avenging stroke. For Accolon
  In madness urged the belted battle on
  His King defenseless; who, the hilted cross
  Of that false weapon grasped, beneath the boss
  Of his deep-dented shield crouched; and around
  Crawled the unequal conflict o'er the ground,
  Sharded with shattered spears and off-hewn bits
  Of shivered steel and gold that burnt in fits.
  So hunted, yet defiant, cowering
  Beneath his bossy shield's defense, the King
  Persisted stoutly. And, devising still
  How to secure his sword and by what skill,
  Him so it fortuned when most desperate:
  In that hot chase they came where shattered late
  Lay tossed the truncheon of a bursten lance,
  Which deftly seized, to Accolon's advance
  He wielded valorous. Against the fist
  Smote where the gauntlet husked the nervous wrist,
  Which strained the weapon to a wrathful blow;
  Palsied, the tightened sinews of his foe
  Loosened from effort, and, the falchion seized,
  Easy was yielded. Then the wroth King squeezed,
  --Hurling the moon-disk of his shield afar,--
  Him in both knotted arms of wiry war,
  Rocked sidewise twice or thrice,--as one hath seen
  Some stern storm take an ash tree, roaring green,
  Nodding its sappy bulk of trunk and boughs
  To dizziness, from tough, coiled roots carouse
  Its long height thundering;--so King Arthur shook
  Sir Accolon and headlong flung; then took,
  Tearing away, that scabbard from his side,
  Tossed thro' the breathless lists, that far and wide
  Gulped in the battle voiceless. Then right wroth
  Secured Excalibur, and grasped of both
  Wild hands swung glittering and brought bitter down
  On rising Accolon; steel, bone and brawn
  Hewed thro' that blow; unsettled every sense:
  Bathed in a world of blood his limbs grew tense
  And writhen then ungathered limp with death.
  Bent to him Arthur, from the brow beneath,
  Unlaced the helm and doffed it and so asked,
  When the fair forehead's hair curled dark uncasqued,
  "Say! ere I slay thee, whence and what thou art?
  What King, what court be thine? and from what part,
  Speak! or thou diest!--Yet, that brow, methinks
  I have beheld it--where? say, ere death drinks
  The soul-light from life's cups, thine eyes! thou art--
  What art thou, speak!"
              He answered slow and short
  With tortured breathing: "I?--one, Accolon
  Of Gaul, a knight of Arthur's court--at dawn--
  God wot what now I am for love so slain!"
  Then seemed the victor spasmed with keen pain,
  Covered with mailéd hands his visored face;
  "Thou Accolon? art Accolon?" a space
  Exclaimed and conned him: then asked softly, "Say,
  Whence gatest thou this sword, or in what way
  Thou hadst it, speak?" But wandering that knight
  Heard dully, senses clodded thick with night;
  Then rallying earthward: "Woe, woe worth the sword!
  --From love of love who lives, for love yet lord!--
  Morgane!--thy love for love in love hadst made
  Me strong o'er kings an hundred! to have swayed
  Britain! had this not risen like a fate,
  Spawned up, a Hell's miscarriage sired of Hate!--
  A king? thou curse! a gold and blood crowned king,
  With Arthur's sister queen?--'Twas she who schemed.
  And there at Chariot we loved and dreamed
  Gone some twelve months. There so we had devolved
  How Arthur's death were compassed and resolved
  Each liberal morning, like an almoner,
  Prodigal of silver to the begging air;
  Each turbulent eve that in heaven's turquoise rolled
  Convulsive fiery glories deep in gold;
  Each night--hilarious heavens vast of night!--
  Boisterous with quivering stars buoyed bubble-light
  In flexuous labyrinths o' the intricate sphere.
  We dreamed and spake Ambition at our ear--
  Nay! a crowned curse and crimeful clad she came,
  To me, that woman, brighter than a flame;
  And laughed on me with pouting lips up-pursed
  For kisses which I gave for love: How cursed
  Was I thereafter! For, lie fleshed in truth,
  She shrivels to a hag! Behind that youth
  Ugly, misshapen; Lust not Love, wherein
  Germs pregnant seed of Hell for hate and sin.--
  _I_ seek for such the proudest height of seat,
  King Arthur's kingdom, and bold fame complete?--
  Harlot!--sweet spouse of Urience King of Gore!--
  Sweet harlot!--here's that death determined o'er!
  And now thou hast thy dream, and dreaming grieve
  That death so ruins it?--Thy mouth to shrieve!--
  Nay, nay, I love thee! witness bare this field!
  I love thee!--heart, dost love her and yet yield?--
  Enow! enow! so hale me hence to die!"

  Then anger in the good King's gloomy eye
  Burnt, instant-embered, as one oft may see
  A star leak out of heaven and cease to be.
  Slow from his visage he his visor raised,
  And on the dying one mute moment gazed,
  Then low bespake him grimly: "Accolon,
  I am that King." He with an awful groan,
  Blade-battered as he was, beheld and knew;
  Strained to his tottering knees and haggard drew
  Up full his armored tallness, hoarsely cried,
  "The King!" and at his mailed feet clashed and died.
  Then rose a world of anxious faces pressed
  About King Arthur, who, though wound-distressed,
  Bespake that multitude: "Whiles breath and power
  Remain, judge we these brethren: This harsh hour
  Hath yielded Damas all this rich estate;--
  So it is his--allotted his of Fate
  Thro' might of arms; so let it be to him.
  For, stood our oath on knighthood not so slim
  But that it hath this strong conclusion:
  This much by us as errant knight is done:
  Now our decree as King of Britain, hear:
  We do adjudge this Damas banned fore'er,
  Outlawed and exiled from all shores and isles
  Of farthest Britain in its many miles.
  One month be his--no more! then will we come
  Even with an iron host to seal his doom;
  If he be not departed over seas,
  Hang naked from his battlements to please
  Of carrion ravens and wild hawks the craws.
  Thus much for Damas. But our pleasure draws
  Toward sir Ontzlake, whom it likes the King
  To take into his knightly following
  Of that Round Table royal.--Stand our word!--
  But I am overweary; take my sword;--
  Unharness me; for, battle worn, I tire
  With bruises' achings and wounds mad with fire;
  And monasteryward would I right fain,
  Even Glastonbury and with me the slain."
  So bare they then the wounded King away,
  The dead behind. So, closed the Autumn day.

       *       *       *       *       *

  But when within that abbey he waxed strong,
  The King remembering him of all the wrong
  That Damas had inflicted on the land,
  Commanded Lionell with a staunch band
  This weed's out-stamping if still rooted there.
  He riding thither to that robber lair,
  Led Arthur's hopefulest helms, when thorn on thorn
  Reddened an hundred spears one winter morn;
  Built up, a bulk of bastioned rock on rock,
  Vast battlements, that loomed above the shock
  Of freshening foam that climbed with haling hands,
  Lone cloudy-clustered turrets in loud lands
  Set desolate,--mournful o'er wide, frozen flats,--
  Found hollow towers the haunt of owls and bats.


  Hate, born of Wrath and mother red of Crime,
  In Hell was whelped ere the hot hands of time,
  Artificer of God, had coined one world
  From formless forms of void and 'round it furled
  Its lordly raiment of the day and night,
  And germed its womb for seasons throed with might:
  And Hell sent Hate to man to hate or use,
  To serve itself by serving and amuse....

  For her half brother Morgane had conceived
  A morbid hatred; in that much she grieved,
  Envious and jealous, for that high renown
  And majesty the King for his fast crown
  Thro' worship had acquired. And once he said,
  "The closest kin to state are those to dread:
  No honor such to crush: envenoming
  All those kind tongues of blood that try to sing
  Petition to the soul, while conscience quakes
  Huddled, but stern to hearts whose cold pride takes."
  And well she knew that Arthur: mightier
  Than Accolon, without Excalibur
  Were as a stingless hornet in the joust
  With all his foreign weapons. So her trust
  Smiled certain of conclusion; eloquent
  Gave lofty heart bold hope that at large eyes
  Piled up imperial dreams of power and prize.
  And in her carven chamber, oaken dark,
  Traceried and arrased, o'er the barren park
  That dripped with Autumn,--for November lay
  Swathed frostily in fog on every spray,--
  Thought at her tri-arched casement lone, one night,
  Ere yet came knowledge of that test of might.
  Her lord in slumber and the castle dull
  With silence or with sad wind-music full.
  "And he removed?--fond fool! _he is removed!_
  Death-dull from feet to hair and graveward shoved
  From royalty to that degraded state
  But purpler pomp! But, see! regenerate
  Another monarch rises--Accolon!--
  Love! Love! with state more ermined; balmy son
  Of gods not men, and nobler hence to rule.
  Sweet Love almighty, terrible to school
  Harsh hearts to gentleness!--Then all this realm's
  Iron-huskéd flower of war, which overwhelms
  With rust and havoc, shall explode and bloom
  An asphodel of peace with joy's perfume.
  And then, sweet Launcelots and sweet Tristrams proud,
  Sweet Gueneveres, sweet Isouds, now allowed
  No pleasures but what wary, stolen hours
  In golden places have their flaming flowers,
  Shall have curled feasts of passion evermore.
  Poor out-thrust Love, now shivering at the door,
  No longer, sweet neglected, thou thrust off,
  Insulted and derided: nor the scoff
  Of bully Power, whose heart of insult flings
  Off for the roar of arms the appeal that clings
  And lifts a tearful, prayerful pitiful face
  Up from his brutal feet: this shrine where grace
  Lays woman's life for every sacrifice--
  To him so little, yet of what pure price,
  Her all, being all her all for love!--her soul
  Life, honor, earth and firmamental whole
  Of God's glad universe; stars, moon and sun;
  Creation, death; life ended, life begun.
  And if by fleshly love all Heaven's debarred,
  Its sinuous revolving spheres instarred,
  Then Hell were Heaven with love to those who knew
  Love which God's Heaven encouraged--love that drew
  Hips, head and hair in fiends' devouring claws
  Down, down its pit's hurled sucking, as down draws,--
  Yet lip to narrow lip with whom we love,--
  A whirlwind some weak, crippled, fallen dove.

  "Then this lank Urience? He who is lord.--
  Where is thy worry? for, hath he no sword?
  No dangerous dagger I, hid softly here
  Sharp as an adder's fang? or for that ear
  No instant poison which insinuates,
  Tightens quick pulses, while one breathing waits,
  With ice and death? For often men who sleep
  On eider-down wake not, but closely keep
  Such secrets in their graves to rot and rot
  To dust and maggots;--of these--which his lot?"
  Thus she conspired with her that rainy night
  Lone in her chamber; when no haggard, white,
  Wan, watery moon dreamed on the streaming pane,
  But on the leads beat an incessant rain,
  And sighed and moaned a weary wind along
  The turrets and torn poplars stirred to song.

  So grew her face severe as skies that take
  Dark forces of full storm, sound-shod, that shake
  With murmurous feet black hills, and stab with fire
  A pine some moaning forest mourns as sire.
  So touched her countenance that dark intent;
  And to still eyes stern thoughts a passion sent,
  As midnight waters luminous glass deep
  Suggestive worlds of austere stars in sleep,
  Vague ghostly gray locked in their hollow gloom.
  Then as if some vast wind had swept the room,
  Silent, intense, had raised her from her seat,
  Of dim, great arms had made her a retreat,
  Secret as love to move in, like some ghost,
  Noiseless as death and subtle as sharp frost,
  Poised like a light and borne as carefully,
  Trod she the gusty hall where shadowy
  The stirring hangings rolled a Pagan war.
  And there the mail of Urience shone. A star,
  Glimmering above, a dying cresset dropped
  From the stone vault and flared. And here she stopped
  And took the sword bright, burnished by his page,
  And ruddy as a flame with restless rage.
  Grasping this death unto the chamber where
  Slept innocent her spouse she moved--an air
  Twined in soft, glossy sendal; or a fit
  Of faery song a wicked charm in it,
  A spell that sings seductive on to death.
  Then paused she at one chamber; for a breath
  Listened: and here her son Sir Ewain slept,
  He who of ravens a black army kept,
  In war than fiercest men more terrible,
  That tore forth eyes of kings who blinded fell.
  Sure that he slept, to Urience stole and stood
  Dim by his couch. About her heart hot blood
  Caught strangling, then throbbed thudding fever up
  To her broad eyes, like wine whirled in a cup.

  Then came rare Recollection, with a mouth
  Sweet as the honeyed sunbeams of the South
  Trickling thro' perplexed ripples of low leaves;
  To whose faint form a veil of starshine cleaves
  Intricate gauze from memoried eyes to feet;--
  Feet sandaled with crushed, sifted snows and fleet
  To come and go and airy anxiously.
  She, trembling to her, like a flower a bee
  Nests in and makes an audible mouth of musk
  Dripping a downy language in the dusk,
  Laid lips to ears and luted memories of
  Now hateful Urience:--Her maiden love,
  That willing went from Caerlleon to Gore
  One dazzling day of Autumn. How a boar,
  Wild as the wonder of the blazing wood,
  Raged at her from a cavernous solitude,
  Which, crimson-creepered, yawned the bristling curse
  Murderous upon her; how her steed waxed worse
  And, snorting terror, fled unmanageable,
  Pursued with fear, and flung her from the selle,
  Soft slipping on a bank of springy moss
  That couched her swooning. In an utter loss
  Of mind and limbs she only knew twas thus--
  As one who pants beneath an incubus:--
  The boar thrust toward her a tusked snout and fanged
  Of hideous bristles, and the whole wood clanged
  And buzzed and boomed a thousand sounds and lights
  Lawless about her brain, like leaves fierce nights
  Of hurricane harvest shouting: then she knew
  A fury thunder twixt it--and fleet flew
  Rich-rooted moss and sandy loam that held
  Dark-buried shadows of the wild, and swelled
  Continual echoes with the thud of strife,
  And breath of man and brute that warred for life;
  And all the air, made mad with foam and forms,
  Spun froth and wrestled twixt her hair and arms,
  While trampled caked the stricken leaves or shred
  Hummed whirling, and snapped brittle branches dead.
  And when she rose and leaned her throbbing head,
  Which burst its uncoifed rays of raven hair
  Down swelling shoulders pure and faultless fair,
  On one milk, marvelous arm of fluid grace,
  Beheld the brute thing throttled and the face
  Of angry Urience over, browed like Might,
  One red, swoln arm, that pinned the hairy fright,
  Strong as a god's, iron at the gullet's brawn;
  Dug in his midriff, the close knees updrawn
  Wedged deep the glutton sides that quaked and strove
  A shaggy bulk, whose sharp hoofs horny drove.
  Thus man and brute burned bent; when Urience slipped
  One arm, the horror's tearing tusks had ripped
  And ribboned redly, to the dagger's hilt,
  Which at his hip hung long a haft gold-gilt;
  Its rapid splinter drew; beamed twice and thrice
  High in the sun its ghastliness of ice
  Plunged--and the great boar, stretched in sullen death,
  Weakened thro' wild veins, groaned laborious breath.

  And how he brought her water from a well
  That rustled freshness near them, as it fell
  From its full-mantled urn, in his deep casque,
  And prayed her quaff; then bathed her brow, a task
  That had accompaning tears of joy and vows
  Of love, sweet intercourse of eyes and brows,
  And many clinging kisses eloquent.
  And how, when dressed his arm, behind him bent
  She clasped him on the same steed and they went
  On thro' the gold wood toward the golden West,
  Till on one low hill's forest-covered crest
  Up in the gold his castle's battlements pressed.
  And then she felt she'd loved him till had come
  Fame of the love of Isoud, whom from home
  Brought knightly Tristram o'er the Irish foam,
  And Guenevere's for Launcelot of the Lake.
  And then how passion from these seemed to wake
  Longing for some great gallant who would slake--
  And such found Accolon.
  And then she thought
  How far she'd fallen and how darkly fraught
  With consequence was this. Then what distress
  Were hers and his--her lover's; and success
  How doubly difficult if Arthur slain,
  King Urience lived to assert his right to reign.
  So paused she pondering on the blade; her lips
  Breathless and close as close cold finger tips
  Hugged the huge weapon's hilt. And so she sighed,
  "Nay! long, too long hast lived who shouldst have died
  Even in the womb abortive! who these years
  Hast leashed sweet life to care with stinging tears,
  A knot thus harshly severed!--As thou art
  Into the elements naked!"
              O'er his heart
  The long sword hesitated, lean as crime,
  Descended redly once. And like a rhyme
  Of nice words fairly fitted forming on,--
  A sudden ceasing and the harmony gone,
  So ran to death the life of Urience,
  A strong song incomplete of broken sense.
  There glowered the crimeful Queen. The glistening sword
  Unfleshed, flung by her wronged and murdered lord;
  And the dark blood spread broader thro' the sheet
  To drip a horror at impassive feet
  And blur the polished oak. But lofty she
  Stood proud, relentless; in her ecstacy
  A lovely devil; a crowned lust that cried
  On Accolon; that harlot which defied
  Heaven with a voice of pulses clamorous as
  Steep storm that down a cavernous mountain pass
  Blasphemes an hundred echoes; with like power
  The inner harlot called its paramour:
  Him whom King Arthur had commanded, when
  Borne from the lists, be granted her again
  As his blithe gift and welcome from that joust,
  For treacherous love and her adulterous lust.
  And while she stood revolving how her deed's
  Concealment were secured,--a grind of steeds,
  Arms, jingling stirrups, voices loud that cursed
  Fierce in the northern court. To her athirst
  For him her lover, war and power it spoke,
  Him victor and so King; and then awoke
  A yearning to behold, to quit the dead.
  So a wild specter down wide stairs she fled,
  Burst on a glare of links and glittering mail,
  That shrunk her eyes and made her senses quail.
  To her a bulk of iron, bearded fierce,
  Down from a steaming steed into her ears,
  "This from the King, a boon!" laughed harsh and hoarse;
  Two henchmen beckoned, who pitched sheer with force,
  Loud clanging at her feet, hacked, hewn and red,
  Crusted with blood a knight in armor--dead;
  Even Accolon, tossed with the mocking scoff
  "This from the King!"--phantoms in fog rode off.
  And what remains? From Camelot to Gore
  That right she weeping fled; then to the shore,--
  As that romancer tells,--Avilion,
  Where she hath Majesty gold-crowned yet wan;
  In darkest cypress a frail pitious face
  Queenly and lovely; 'round sad eyes the trace
  Of immemorial tears as for some crime:
  They future fixed, expectant of the time
  When the forgiving Arthur cometh and
  Shall have to rule all that lost golden land
  That drifts vague amber in forgotten seas
  Of surgeless turquoise dim with mysteries.
  And so was seen Morgana nevermore,
  Save once when from the Cornwall coast she bore
  The wounded Arthur from that last fought fight
  Of Camlan in a black barge into night.
  But oft some see her with a palfried band
  Of serge-stoled maidens thro' the drowsy land
  Of Autumn glimmer; when are sharply strewn
  The red leaves, while broad in the east a moon
  Swings full of frost a lustrous globe of gleams,
  Faint on the mooning hills as shapes in dreams.


  _Es gibt im Menschenleben Augenblicke,
  Wo er dem Weltgeist näher ist als sonst._--SCHILLER.

  He? why, a tall Franconian strong and young,
  Brown as a walnut the first frost hath hulled;
  A soul of full endeavor powerful
  Bound in lithe limbs, knit into grace and strength
  Of bronze-like muscles elegant, that poised
  A head like Hope's; and then the manly lines
  Of face developed by action and mobile
  To each suggestive impulse of the mind,
  Of smiles of buoyancy or scowls of gloom.--
  And what deep eyes were his!--Aye; I can see
  Their wild and restless disks of luminous night
  Instinct with haughtiness that sneered at Fate,
  Glared cold conclusion to all circumstance,
  As with loud law, to his advantage swift:
  With scorn derisive that shot out a barb,
  Stabbed Superstition to its dagger hilt;
  That smiled a thrust-like smile which curled the lip,
  A vicious heresy with incredible lore,
  When God's or holy Mary's name came forth
  Exclaimed in reverence or astonishment;
  And then would say,
              "What is this God you mouth,
  Employ whose name to sanctify and damn?--
  A benedictive curse?--'T hath past my skill
  Of grave interpretation. And your faith--
  Distinguishment unseen, design unlawed.
  For earth, air, fire or water or keen cold,
  Hints no existence of such, worships not,
  Such as men's minds profess. Rather, meseems,
  Throned have they one such as their hopes have wrought
  In hope there may prove such an one in death
  For Paradise or punishment. I hold
  He juster were and would be kinglier kind
  In sovereign mercy and a prodigal--
  Not to few favored heads who, crowned with state,
  Rule sceptered Infamies--of indulgence free
  To all that burn luxuriant incense on
  Shrines while they prayer him love's obedience.
  Are all not children of the same weak mold?
  Clay of His Adam-modeled clay made quick?
  Endowed with the like hopes, loves, fears and hates,
  Our mother's weaknesses? And these, forsooth,
  These little crowns that lord it o'er His world,
  Tricked up with imitative majesty,
  God-countenanced arrogances, throned may still
  Cry, 'crawl and worship, for we are as gods
  Through God! great gods incarnate of his kind!'
  --Omnipotent Wrong-representatives!
  With might that blasts the world with wars and wrings
  Groans from pale Nations with hell's tyranny.
  So to my mind real monarch only he--
  Your Satan cramped in Hell!--aye, by the fiend!
  To pygmy Earth's frail tinsel majesties,
  That ape a God in a sonorous Heaven.
  Grant me the Devil in all mercy then,
  For I will none of such! a fiend for friend
  While Earth is of the earth; and afterward--
  Nay! ransack not To-morrow till To-day,
  If all that's joy engulf you when it is."
    And laughed an oily laugh of easy jest
  To bow out God and hand the Devil in.--
  I met him here at Ammendorf one Spring,
  Toward the close of April when the Harz,
  Veined to their ruin-crested summits, pulsed
  A fluid life of green and budded gold
  Beneath pure breathing skies of boundless blue:
  Where low-yoked oxen, yellow to the knees,
  Along the fluted meadow, freshly ploughed,
  Plodded and snuffed the fragrance of the soil,
  The free bird sang exultant in the sun.
  Triumphant Spring with hinted hopes of May
  And jaunty June, her mouth a puckered rose.
  Here at this very hostelery o' The Owl;
  Mine host there sleek served cannikins of wine
  Beneath that elm now touseled by that shrew,
  Lean Winter. Well!--a lordly vintage that!
  With tang of fires which had sucked out their soul
  From feverish sun-vats, cooled it from the moon's;
  From wine-skin bellies of the bursting grape
  Trodden, in darkness of old cellars aged
  Even to the tingling smack of olden earth.
  Rich! I remember!--wine that spurred the blood--
  Thou hast none such, I swear, nor wilt again!--
  That brought the heart loud to the generous mouth,
  And made the eyes unlatticed casements whence
  The good man's soul laughed interested out.
  Stoups of rare royal Rhenish, such they say
  As Necromance hides guarded in vast casks
  Of antique make far in the Kyffhäuser,
  The Cellar of the Knights near Sittendorf.
    So, mellowed by that wine to friendship frank,
  He spake me his intent in coming here;
  But not one word of what his parentage;
  But this his name was, Rudolf, and his home,
  Franconia; but nor why he left nor when:
  His mind to live a forester and be
  Enfellowed in the Duke of Brunswick's train
  Of buff and green; and so to his estate
  Even now was bound, a youth of twenty-three.
  And when he ceased the fire in his eyes
  Worked restless as a troubled animal's,
  Which hate-enraged can burn a steady flame,
  Brute merciless. And thus I mused with me,
  When he had ceased to fulminate at state,
  "Another Count von Hackelnburg the fiend
  Hath tricked unto the chase!--for hounds from Hell?"
  But answered nothing, save light words of cheer
  As best become fleet friends warm wine doth make.
    Then as it chanced, old Kurt had come that morn
  With some six of his jerkined foresters
  From the Thuringian forest; damp with dew;
  Red-cheeked as morn with early travel; bound
  For Brunswick, Dummburg and the Hakel passed.
  Chief huntsman he then to the goodly Duke,
  And father of the sunniest maiden here
  In Ammendorf, the blameless Ilsabe;
  Who, motherless, the white-haired father prized
  A jewel priceless. As huge barons' ghosts
  Guard big, accumulated hoards of wealth,
  Fast-sealed in caverned cellars, robber wells,
  Beneath the dungeoned Dummburg, so he watched
  Her, all his world in her who was his wealth.
    A second Lora of Thuringia she.
  Faultless for love, instilled all souls with love,
  Who, in the favor of her maiden smile,
  Felt friendship grow up like a golden thought;
  A life of love from words; and light that fell
  And wrought calm influence from her pure blue eyes.
  Hair sedate and austerely dressed o'er brows
  White as a Harz dove's wing; hair with the hue
  Of twilight mists the sun hath soaked with gold.
  A Tyrolean melody that brought
  Dim dreams of Alpine heights, of shepherds brown,
  Goat-skinned, with healthy cheeks and wrinkled lips
  That fill wild oaten pipes on wand'ring ways,
  Embowered deep, with mountain melodies,--
  Simple with love and plaintive even to tears,--
  Her presence, her sweet presence like a song.
  And when she left, it was as when one hath
  Beheld a moonlit Undine, ere the mind
  Adjusts one thought, cleave thro' the glassy Rhine
  A glittering beauty wet, and gone again
  A flash--the soul drifts wondering on in dreams.
    Some thirty years agone is that; and I,
  Commissioner of the Duke--no sinecure
  I can assure you--had scarce reached the age
  Of thirty (then some three years of that House).
  Thro' me the bold Franconian, whom at first,
  By bitter principles and scorn of state--
  Developed into argument thro' wine--
  The foresthood like was to be denied,
  Was then enfellowed. "Yes," I said, "he's young;
  True, rashly young! yet, see: a wiry frame,
  A chamois' footing, and a face for right;
  An eye which likes me not, but quick with pride,
  And aimed at thought, a butt it may not miss:
  A soul with virgin virtues which crude flesh
  Makes seem but vices, these but God may see--
  Develop these. But, if there's aught of worth,
  Body or mind, in him, Kurt, thou wilt know,
  And to the surface wear, as divers win
  From hideous ooze and life rich jewels lost
  Of polished pureness, worthless left to night,
  Thou or thy daughter, and inspire for good."

    A year thereafter was it that I heard
  Of Rudolf's passion for Kurt's Ilsabe,
  Then their betrothal. And it was from this,--
  For, ah, that Ilsabe! that Ilsabe!--
  Good Mary Mother! how she haunts me yet!
  She, that true touchstone which philosophers feign
  Contacts and golds all base; a woman who
  Could touch all evil into good in man.--
  Surmised I of the excellency which
  Refinement of her gentle company,
  Warm presence of chaste beauty, had resolved
  His fiery nature to, conditioning slave.
  And so I came from Brunswick--as you know--
  Is custom of the Duke or, by his seal
  Commissioned proxy, his commissioner,--
  To test the marksmanship of Rudolf who
  Succeeded Kurt with marriage of his child,
  An heir of Kuno.--He?--Great grandfather
  Of Kurt, and one this forestkeepership
  Was first possesor of; established thus--
  Or such the tale they told me 'round the hearths.
    Kuno, once in the Knight of Wippach's train,
  Rode on a grand hunt with the Duke, who came
  With vast magnificence of knights and hounds,
  And satin-tuniced nobles curled and plumed
  To hunt Thuringian deer. Then Morn too slow
  On her blithe feet was; quick with laughing eyes
  To morrow mortal eyes and lazy limbs;
  Rather on tip-toed hills recumbent yawned,
  Aroused an hour too soon; ashamed, disrobed,
  Rubbed the stiff sleep from eyes that still would close,
  While brayed the hollow horns and bayed lean hounds,
  And cheered gallants until the dingles dinned,
  Where searched the climbing mists or, compact light,
  Fled breathless white, clung scared a moted gray,
  Low unsunned cloudlands of the castled hills.
    And then near mid-noon from a swarthy brake
  The ban-dogs roused a red gigantic stag,
  Lashed to whose back with grinding knotted cords,
  Borne with whom like a nightmare's incubus,
  A man shrieked; burry-bearded and his hair
  Kinked with dry, tangled burrs, and he himself
  Emaciated and half naked. From
  The wear of wildest passage thro' the wild,
  Rent red by briars, torn and bruised by rocks.
  --For, such the law then, when the peasant chased
  Or slew the dun deer of his tyrant lords,
  As punishment the torturing withes and spine
  Of some big stag, a gift of game and wild
  Enough till death--death in the antlered herd
  Or crawling famine in bleak, haggard haunts.
  Then was the dark Duke glad, and forthwith cried
  To all his dewy train a rich reward
  For him who slew the stag and saved the man,
  But death to him who slew the man and stag,
  The careless error of a loose attempt.
  So crashed the hunt along wild, glimmering ways
  Thro' creepers and vast brush beneath gnarled trees,
  Up a scorched torrent's bed. Yet still refused
  Each that sure shot; the risk too desperate
  The poor life and the golden gift beside.
  So this young Kuno with two eyes wherein
  Hunt with excitement kindled reckless fire
  Clamored, "And are ye cowards?--Good your grace,
  You shall not chafe!--The fiend direct my ball!"
  And fired into a covert deeply packed,
  An intertangled wall of matted night,
  Wherein the eye might vainly strive and strive
  To pierce one foot or earn one point beyond.
  But, ha! the huge stag staggered from the brake
  Heart-hit and perished. That wan wretch unhurt
  Soon bondless lay condoled. But the great Duke,
  Charmed with the eagle shot, admired the youth,
  There to him and his heirs forever gave
  The forest keepership.
              But envious tongues
  Were soon at wag; and whispered went the tale
  Of how the shot was free, and that the balls
  Used by young Kuno were free bullets, which
  Molded were cast in influence of the fiend
  By magic and directed by the fiend.
  Of some effect these tales were and some force
  Had with the Duke, who lent an ear so far
  As to ordain Kuno's descendants all
  To proof of skill ere their succession to
  The father's office. Kurt himself hath shot
  The silver ring from out the popinjay's beak--
  A good shot he, you see, who would succeed.
    The Devil guards his mysteries close as God.
  For who can say what elementaries
  Demoniac lurk in desolate dells and woods
  Shadowy? malicious vassals of that power
  Who signs himself, thro' these, a slave to those,
  Those mortals who act open with his Hell,
  Those only who seek secretly and woo.
    Of these free, fatal bullets let me speak:
  There may be such; our Earth hath things as strange;
  Then only in coarse fancies may exist;
  For fancy is among our peasantry
  A limber juggler with the weird and dark;
  For Superstition hides not her grim face,
  A skeleton grin on leprous ghastliness,
  From Ignorance's mossy thatches low.
    A cross-way, as I heard, among gaunt hills,
  A solitude convulsed of rocks and trees
  Blasted; and on the stony cross-road drawn
  A bloody circle with a bloody sword;
  Herein rude characters; a skull and thighs
  Fantastic fixed before a fitful fire
  Of spiteful coals. Eleven of the clock
  Cast, the first bullet leaves the mold,--the lead
  Mixed with three bullets that have hit their mark,
  Burnt blood,--the wounded Sacramental Host,
  Unswallowed and unhallowed, oozed when shot
  Fixed to a riven pine.--Ere twelve o'clock,
  When dwindling specters in their rotting shrouds
  Quit musty tombs to mumble hollow woes
  In Midnight's horrored ear, with never a cry,
  Word or weak whisper, till that hour sound,
  Must the free balls be cast; and these shall be
  In number three and sixty; three of which
  Semial--he the Devil's minister--
  Claims for his master and stamps as his own
  To hit awry their mark, askew for harm.
  _Those other sixty shall not miss their mark._
    No cry, no word, no whisper, tho' there gibe
  Most monstrous shapes that flicker in thick mist
  Lewd human countenances or leer out
  Swoln animal faces with fair forms of men,
  While wide-winged owls fan the drear, dying coals,
  That lick thin, slender tongues of purple fire
  From viperous red, and croaks the night-hawk near.
  No cry, no word, no whisper should there come
  Weeping a wandering form with weary, white
  And pleading countenance of her you love,
  Faded with tears of waiting; beckoning
  With gray, large arms or censuring; her shame
  In dull and desolate eyes; who, if you speak
  Or stagger from that circle--hideous change!--
  Shrinks, faced a hag of million wrinkles, which
  Ridge scaly sharpness of protruding bones,
  To rip you limb from limb with taloned claws.
  Nor be deceived if some far midnight bell
  Boom that anticipated hour, nor leave
  By one short inch the bloody orbit, for
  The minion varlets of Hell's majesty
  Expectant cirque its dim circumference.
  But when the hour of midnight smites, be sure
  You have your bullets, neither more nor less;
  For, if thro' fear one more or less you have,
  Your soul is forfeit to those agencies,
  Right rathe who are to rend it from the flesh.
  And while that hour of midnight sounds a din
  Of hurrying hoofs and shouting outriders--
  Six snorting steeds postilioned roll a stage
  Black and with groaning wheels of spinning fire,
  "Room there!--ho! ho!--who bars the mountain-way!
  On over him!"--but fear not nor fare forth,--
  'Tis but the last trick of your bounden slave:
  And ere the red moon strives from dingy clouds
  And dives again, high the huge leaders leap
  Iron fore-hoofs flashing and big eyes like gledes,
  And, spun a spiral spark into the night,
  Whistling the phantom flies and fades away.
  Some say there comes no stage, but Hackelnburg,
  Wild Huntsman of the Harz, rides hoarse in storm,
  Dashing the dead leaves with dark dogs of hell
  Direful thro' whirling thickets, and his horn
  Croaks doleful as an owl's hoot while he hurls
  Straight 'neath rain-streaming skies of echoes, sheer
  Plunging the magic circle horse and hounds.
  And then will come, plutonian clad and slim,
  Upon a stallion vast intensely black,
  Semial, Satan's lurid minister,
  To hail you and inform you and assure.--
    Enough! these wives-tales heard to what I've seen;
  To Ammendorf I came; and Rudolf there
  With Kurt and all his picturesque foresters
  Met me. And then the rounding year was ripe;
  Throbbing the red heart of full Autumn: When
  Each morning gleams crisp frost on shriveled fields;
  Each noon sits veiled in mysteries of mist;
  Each night unrolls a miracle woof of stars,
  Where moon--bare-bosomed goddess of the hunt--
  Wades calm, crushed clouds or treads the vaster blue.
  Then I proposed the season's hunt; till eve
  The test of Rudolf's skill postponed, with which
  Annoyed he seemed. And so it was I heard
  How he an execrable marksman was,
  And whispered tales of near, incredible shots
  That wryed their mark, while in his flint-lock's pan
  Flashed often harmless powder, while wild game
  Stared fearless on him and indulgent stood,
  An open butt to such wide marksmanship.
    Howbeit, he that day acquitted him
  Of these maligners' cavils; in the hunt
  Missing no shot however rash he made
  Or distant thro' thick intercepting trees;
  And the piled, curious game brought down of all
  Good marksmen of that train had not sufficed,
  Doubled, nay, trebled, to have matched his heap.
  And wonderstruck the _jägers_ saw, nor knew
  How to excuse them. My indulgence giv'n,
  Still swore that only yesterday old Kurt
  Had touched his daughter's tears and Rudolf's wrath
  By vowing end to their betrothéd love,
  Unless that love developed better aim
  Against the morrow's test; his ancestor's
  High fame should not be damaged. So he stormed,
  But bowed his gray head and wept silently;
  Then looking up forgave when big he saw
  Tears in his daughter's eyes and Rudolf gone
  Forth in the night that wailed with coming storm.
    Before this inn, The Owl, assembled came
  The nice-primped villagers to view the trial:
  Fair _fräuleins_ and blonde, comely, healthy _fraus_;
  Stout burgers. And among them I did mark
  Kurt and his daughter. He, a florid face
  Of pride and joy for Rudolf's strange success;
  She, radiant and flounced in flowing garb
  Of bridal white deep-draped and crowned with flowers;
  For Kurt insisted this their marriage eve
  Should Rudolf come successful from the chase.
    So pleased was I with what I'd seen him do,
  The test of skill superfluous seemed and so
  Was on the bare brink of announcement, when,
  Out of the evening heaven's hardening red,
  Like a white warning loosed for augury,
  A word of God some fallen angel prized
  As his last all of heaven, penitent,
  Hell-freed, sent minister to save a soul,
  A wild dove clove the luminous winds and there,
  A wafted waif, pruned settled on a bough:
  Then I, "Thy weapon, Rudolph, pierce its head!"
  Cried pointing, "And chief-forester art thou!"
  Pale as a mist and wavering he turned;
  "I had a dream--" then faltered as he aimed,
  "A woman's whim!" But starting from the press
  Screamed Ilsabe, "My dove!" to plead its life
  Came--cracked the rifle and untouched the dove
  Rose beating lustrous wings, but Ilsabe--
  "God's wrath! the sight!"--fell smitten, and the blood
  Sprang red from shattered brow and silent hair--
  That bullet strangely thro' her brow and brain....
  And what of Rudolf? ah! of him you ask?
  That proud Franconian who would scoff at Fate
  And scorn all state; who cried black Satan friend
  Sooner than our white Christ;--why, he went mad
  O' the moment, and into the haunted Harz
  Fled, an unholy thing, and perished there
  The prey of demons of the Dummburg. But
  I one of few less superstitious who
  Say, as the finale of a madman's deed,
  He in the Bodé, from that ragged rock,
  The Devil's Dancing Place, did leap and die.


  What ogive gates from gold of Ophir wrought,
    What walls of bastioned Parian, lucid rose,
  What marts of crystal, for the eyes of Thought
    Hast builded on what Islands of Repose!
  Vague onyx columns ranked Corinthian,
    Or piled Ionic, colonnading heights
      That loom above long burst of mythic seas:
  Vast gynaeceums of carnelian;
    Micaceous temples, far marmorean flights,
      Where winds the arabesque and plastique frieze.

  Where bulbous domes of coruscating ore
    Cloud--like convulsive sunsets--lands that dream,
  Myrrh-fragrant, over siren seas and hoar,
    Dashed with stiff, breezy foam of ocean's stream.
  Tempestuous architecture-revelries;
    Built melodies of marble or clear glass;
      Effulgent sculptures chiseled out of thought
  In misty attitudes, whose majesties
    Feed full the pleasure as those beauties pass
      To pale extinctions which are beauty fraught.

  On rebeck and on rose in plinths of spars,
    On glimmering solitudes of flower and stone,
  A twilight-glow swoons settled, burned with stars,
    Deep violet dusk developing nor done.
  Where float fair nacreous shapes like deities,--
    Existences of glory musical,--
      'Round whose warm hair twist fillets' coiling gold,
  Their limbs Olympian lovely, and their eyes
    Dark oblique fervors; and most languorous tall
      In woven white with girdling gold threefold.

  There darkling the consummate vintage sleeps,--
    Lethe-nepenthes for Earth-agony,--
  In sealéd amphorae some Sybil keeps,
    World-old, forever cellared secretly.
  A wine of Xeres or of Syracuse?
    A fierce Falernian?--Ah! no vile Sabine!--
      A stol'n ambrosia of what olden god?
  Whose bubbled rubies maiden feet did bruise
    From crusted vats of vintage rich, I ween,
      Vivacious purple of some Samian sod.

  Oh, for the cold conclusion of one draught!
    Elysian ecstacy of classic earth!--
  Where heroes warred with gods and where gods laughed
    In eyes of mortal brown, a lusty mirth
  Of deity delirious with desire:
    Where danced the sacrifice to hornéd shrines,
      And splashed the full libation blue as blood.--
  Oh, to be drunk with dreaming! to inspire
    The very soul of beauty whence it shines
      Too lost for utterance yet understood!

  In cogitation of what verdurous shades,
    Dull-droning quietudes where wild-bees lolled
  Suck, lulled in pulpy lilies of the glades,
    Barbaric-smothered with the kerneled gold:
  Teased by some torso of the golden age,
    Nude breasts of Cytherea, famous fair,
      Uncestus'd, yet suggestive of what loves
  Immortal! yearn enamoured; or to rage
    With sun-burnt Poesy whose throat breathes bare
      O'er leopard skins and flute among her groves.


  Ah, haughty hills, sardonic solitudes,
    What wizard touch hath, crowning you with gold,
  Cast Tyrian purple o'er broad-shouldered woods,
    And to your pride anointed empire sold
  For wan traditioned death, whose misty moods
    Shake each huge throne of quarried shadows cold?

  Now where the agate-foliaged forests sleep,
    Bleak briars are ruby-berried, and the brush
  Flames--when the winds armsful of motion heap
    In wincing gusts upon it--amber blush;
  The beech an inner beryle breaks from deep
    Encrusting topaz of a sullen flush.

  Dead gold, dead bronze, dull amethystine rose,
    Rose cameo, in day's gray, somber spar
  Of smoky quartz--intaglioed beauty--glows
    Luxuriance of color. Trunks that are
  Vast organs antheming the winds' wild woes
    A faded sun and pale night's paler star.

  Bulged from its cup the dark-brown acorn falls,
    And by its gnarly saucer in the streams
  Swells plumped; and here the spikey spruce-gum balls
    Rust maces of an ouphen host that dreams;
  Beneath the chestnut the split burry hulls
    Disgorge fat purses of sleek satin gleams.

  Burst silver white, nods an exploded husk
    Of snowy, woolly smoke the milk-weed's puff
  Along the orchard's fence, where in the dusk
    And ashen weeds,--as some grim Satyr's rough
  Red, breezy cheeks burn thro' his beard,--the brusque
    Crab apples laugh, wind-tumbled from above.

  Runs thro' the wasted leaves the crickets' click,
    Which saddest coignes of Melancholy cheers;
  One bird unto the sumach flits to pick
    Red, sour seeds; and thro' the woods one hears
  The drop of gummy walnuts; the railed rick
    Looms tawny in the field where low the steers.

  Some slim bud-bound Leimoniad hath flocked,
    The birds to Echo's shores, where flossy foams
  Boom low long cream-white cliffs.--Where once buzzed
    Unmillioned bees within unmillioned blooms,
  One hairy hummer cramps one bloom, frost mocked,--rocked
    A miser whose rich hives squeeze oozing combs.

  Twist some lithe maple and right suddenly
    A leafy storm of stars about you breaks--
  Some Hamadryad's tears: Unto her knee
    Wading the Naiad clears her brook that streaks
  Thro' wadded waifs: Hark! Pan for Helike
    Flutes melancholy by the minty creeks.


  "Teach me the wisdom of thy beauty, pray,
    That, being thus wise, I may aspire to see
  What beauty is, whence, why, and in what way
    Immortal, yet how mortal utterly:
  For, shrinking loveliness, thy brow of day
    Pleads plaintive as a prayer, anemone.

  "Teach me wood-wisdom, I am petulant:
    Thou hast the wildness of a Dryad's eyes,
  The shyness of an Oread's, wild plant:--
    Behold the bashful goddess where she lies
  Distinctly delicate!--inhabitant
    Ambrosial-earthed, star-cousin of the skies.

  "Teach me thy wisdom, for, thro' knowing, yet,
    When I have drunk dull Lethe till each vein
  Thuds full oblivion, I shall not forget;--
    For beauty known is beauty; to sustain
  Glad memories with life, while mad regret
    And sorrow perish, being Lethe slain."

  "Teach thee my beauty being beautiful
    And beauty wise?--My slight perfections, whole
  As world, as man, in their creation full
    As old a Power's cogitation roll.
  Teach thee?--Presumption! thought is young and dull--
    Question thy God what God is, soul what soul."


  Thee freckled August, dozing hot and blonde
    Oft 'neath a wheat-stack in the white-topped mead--
  In her full hair brown ox-eyed daisies wound--
    O water-gurgler, lends a sleepy heed:
    Half-lidded eyes a purple iron-weed
  Blows slimly o'er; beyond, a path-found pond
    Basks flint-bright, hedged with pink-plumed pepper-grasses,
    A coigne for vainest dragonflies, which glasses
            Their blue in diamond.

  Oft from some dusty locust, that thick weaves
    With crescent pulse-pods its thin foliage gray,
  Thou,--o'er the shambling lane, which past the sheaves
    Of sun-tanned oats winds, red with rutty clay,
  One league of rude rail-fence,--some panting day,
  When each parched meadow quivering vapor grieves,
    Nature's Astrologist, dost promise rain,
    In seeping language of the thirsty plain,
            Cool from the burning leaves.

  And, in good faith, aye! best of faith, art true;
    And welcome that rune-chuckled forecasting,
  When up the faded fierceness of scorched blue
    Strong water-carrier winds big buckets bring,
    Black with stored freshness: how their dippers ring
  And flash and rattle! lavishing large dew
    On tall, good-humored corn that, streaming wet,
    Laughs long; while woods and leas, shut in a net
            Of mist, dream vague in view.

  And thou, safe-houséd in some pawpaw bower
    Of close, broad, gold-green leaves, contented art
  In thy prediction, fall'n within the hour;
    While fuss the brown bees hiveward from the heart
    Of honey-filtering bloom; beneath the cart
  Droop pompous barnyard cocks damped by the shower:
    And deep-eyed August, bonnetless, a beech
    Hugs in disheveled beauty, safe from reach
            On starry moss and flower.



  When I fare forth to kiss the eyes of Spring,
    On ways, which arch gold sunbeams and pearl buds
  Embraced, two whispers we search--wandering
    By goblin forests and by girlish floods
    Deep in the hermit-holy solitudes--
  For stalwart Dryads romping in a ring;
    Firm limbs an oak-bark-brown, and hair--wild woods
  Have perfumed--loops of radiance; and they,
    Most coyly pleasant, as we linger by,
    Pout dimpled cheeks, more rose than rosiest sky,
  Honeyed; and us good-hearted laughter fling
  Like far-out reefs that flute melodious spray.


  Then we surprise each Naiad ere she slips--
    Nude at her toilette--in her fountain's glass,
  With damp locks dewy, and large godlike hips
    Cool-glittering; but discovered, when--alas!
    From green, indented moss and plushy grass,--
  Her great eyes' pansy-black reproaching,--dips
    She white the cloven waters ere we pass:
  And a broad, orbing ripple makes to hide
    From our desirous gaze provoked what path
    She gleaming took; what haunt she bashful hath
  In minnowy freshness, where her murmurous lips
  Bubbling make merry 'neath the rocky tide.


  Oft do we meet the Oread whose eyes
    Are dew-drops where twin heavens shine confessed;
  She, all the maiden modesty's surprise
    Blushing her temples,--to deep loins and breast
    Tempestuous, brown bewildering tresses pressed,--
  Stands one scared moment's moiety, in wise
    Of some delicious dream, then shrinks distressed,
  Like some weak wind that, haply heard, is gone,
    In rapport with shy Silence to make sound;
    So, like storm sunlight, bares clean limbs to bound
  A thistle's flashing to a woody rise,
  A graceful glimmer up the ferny lawn.


  Hear Satyrs and Sylvanus in sad shades
    Of dozy dells pipe: Pan and Fauns hark dance
  With rattling hoofs dim in low, mottled glades:
    Hidden in spice-bush-bowered banks, perchance,
    Mark Slyness waiting with an animal glance
  The advent of some Innocence, who wades
    Thro' thigh-deep flowers, naked as Romance,
  In braided shadows, when two hairy arms
    Hug her unconscious beauty panting white;
    Till tearful terror, struggling into might,
  Beats the brute brow resisting; yields and fades,
  Exhausted, to the grim Lust her rich charms.


_Year 13--._

  Barbican, bartizan, battlement,
  With the Abergavenny mountains blent,
  Look, from the Raglan tower of Gwent,
  My lord Hugh Clifford's ancient home
  Shows, clear morns of the Spring or Summer,
  Thrust out like thin flakes o' a silver foam
  From a climbing cloud, for the hills gloom glummer,
  Being shaggy with heath, yon.--I was his page;
  A favorite then; and he of that age
  When a man will love and be loved again,
  Or die in the wars or a monastery:
  Or toil till he stifle his heart's hard pain,
  Or drink, drug his hopes and his lost love bury.
  I was his page; and often we fared
  Thro' the Clare desmene in Autumn hawking--
  If the baron had known how he would have glared
  From their bushy brows eyes dark with mocking!
  --That of the Strongbows, Richard, I mean--
  Had growled to his yeomen, "A score! mount, Keene!
  Forth and spit me this Clifford, or hang
  With his crop-eared page to the closest oak!"
  For he and the Cliffords had ever a fang
  In the other's side,... but I see him choke
  And strangle with wrath when his hawker told--
  If he told!--how we met on that flowery wold
  His daughter, sweet Hortense of Clare, the day
  Her hooded tiercel its brails did burst
  To trail with its galling jesses away;
  An untrained haggard the falconer cursed,
  Vain whistled to lure; when the eyas sped
  Slant, low and heavily overhead
  By us; and Sir Hugh,--who had just then cast
  His peregrine fierce at a heron-quarry,--
  In his stirrups rising, thus--as it passed,
  By the jesses caught and to her did carry,
  Lingering slender and tall by a rose
  Whence she pulled the berries--But no two foes
  Her eyes and Sir Hugh's!--And I swear each felt
  A song in their hearts!--For I heard him quaver
  Somewhat and then--by Mary!--he knelt!--
  And the Lady herself in her words did waver
  And wonder with smiles. Then daintily took
  The hawk on her fist where it pruned and shook
  Its callowness ragged, as Hugh did seize
  Softly the other hand long and white,--
  Reached forth to him craving him rise from his knees,--
  And mouthed with moist kisses an hundred quite.
  Tho' she blushed up burning, no frowned "Beware!"
  But seemed so happy! when crushing thro'--
  Her sturdy retainer with swarthy stare--
  The underwoods burst; and her maiden crew
  Drew near them naming her name, and came
  With leaves and dim Autumn blossoms aflame.--
  "Their words?" I know not! for how should I?--
  I paged my master but was no spy.
  Nothings, I think, as all lovers', you know;
  Yet how should I hear such whispered low,
  Quick by the wasted woodland yellow?
  When up thro' the brush thrashed that burly fellow
  With his ale-coarse face, and so made a pause
  In the pulse of their words, there my lord Sir Hugh
  Stood with the soil on his knee: No cause
  Had he--but his hanger he halfway drew--
  Then paused, thrust it _clap_ in its sheath again
  And bowed to the Lady and strode away;
  Up, vault, on his steed--and we rode amain
  Gay to his towers that merry day.

  He loved and was loved,--why, I knew!--for look,
  All other sports for the chase he forsook;
  To ride in the Raglan marches and hawk
  And to hunt and to wander. And found a lair,
  In the Strongbow forest, of bush and of rock,
  Of moss and thick ferns; where Hortense of Clare,
  How often I wis not, met him by chance--
  Perhaps!--Sweet sorceress out of romance,
  Those tomes of Geoffrey--for she was fair!
  Her large, warm eyes and hair,... ah, hair,
  How may one picture or liken it!
  With the golden gloss of its full brown, fit
  For the Viviane face of lovable white
  Beneath;--like a star that a cloud of night
  Stops over to threaten but never will drench
  Its tremulous beauty with mists that quench.--

  Heigho!--but they ceased, those meetings. I wot
  Watched of the baron, his menial crew;
  For she loved too well to have once forgot
  The place and the time of their trysting true.
  But she came not--ah! and again came not:
  "_Why and when?_" would question Sir Hugh
  In his labored scrawls a crevice of rock--
  The lovers' post--in its coigne would lock.
  Until near Yule Love gat them again
  A twilight tryst--by frowardness sure.--
  They met. And that day was gray with rain--
  Or snow, and the wind did ever endure
  A long, bleak moaning thorough the wood,
  Smarted the cheek and chapped i' the blood;
  And a burne in the forest cried "sob and sob,"
  And whimpered forever a chopping throb
  Thro' the rope-taunt boughs like a thing pursued.
  --And there it was that he learned how she
  (My faith! how it makes me burn and quiver
  To think what a miserable despot he--
  Lord Richard Strongbow, aye and ever
  To his daughter was!) forsooth! must wed
  With an Eastern Earl--some Lovell: one whom
  (That God in His mercy had smote him dead!)
  Hortense of Clare--but in baby bloom--
  Never had mirrored with maiden eyes.
  Sealed over a baby to strengthen some ties--
  Of power or wealth--had been bartered then
  And sold and purchased, and now ... but when
  To her lover, the Clifford, she told this--there
  He had faced with his love the talons of Death--
  Only for her, who did stay with a stare
  Of reproach all his heat and say in a breath,
  "Is love, that thou sware to me aye and so often,
  To live too feeble or--how?--doth it soften
  And weaken away and--to die?--why die?--
  Live and be strong! and this is why."--
  Her words are glued here so!... I remember
  All as well as that sullen December,
  That blustered and bullied about them and
  Spat stiff its spiteful and cold-cutting snow
  Where they talked there dreamily hand in hand,
  While the rubbing boughs clashed rattling low.
  Her last words these, "By curfew sure
  On Christmas eve at the postern door."

  And we were there, and a void horse too:
  Armed: for a journey I hardly knew
  Whither, but why you well can guess.
  I could have uttered a certain name--
  Our comrade's sure--of what loveliness!
  Waited with love, impatience aflame.
  While Raglan bulged its baronial girth
  To roar to its battlements Yule and song;
  Retainers loud rollicked in wassail and mirth
  Where the mistletoe 'round the vast hearths hung,
  And holly beberried the elden wall
  Of curious oak in the banqueting hall.
  And the spits, I trow, by the scullions turned
  O'er the snoring logs, rich steamed and burned
  With flesh; where the whole wild-boar was roasted
  And the dun-deer flanks and the roebuck haunches;
  Fat tuns of ale, that the cellars boasted,
  Old casks of wine were broached for paunches
  Of the vassals that reveled in bower and stall;
  Pale pages who diced and bluff henchmen who quarr'led
  Or swore in their cups, while lean mastiffs all,
  O'er bones of the feast in their kennels snarled;
  For Hortense--drink! drink!--by the Virgin's leave,
  Were wed to this Lovell this Christmas Eve.

  "Was she long--Did she come?"... By that postern we
  Like shadows lurked. Said my lord Sir Hugh:
  "Yon tower, remember!--that casement, see!--
  When a stealthy light in its slit burns blue
  And signals thrice slowly, thus--'tis she."
  And about his person his gaberdine drew,
  For the wind it hugged and the snow beat thro'.
  Did she come?--We had watched for an hour or twain
  Ere that light burned there in the central pane
  And was flourished thrice and departed so.
  Then closer we packed to the postern portal
  Horses and all in the stinging snow.
  Stiff with the cold was I.--Immortal
  Minutes we waited breath-bated and listened
  Shuddering there in the gusty gale.
  Whizzing o'er parapets sifted and glistened
  Wild drift, thro' battlements hissed in a veil.
  Quoth my lord Sir Hugh, for his love was a-heat,
  "She feels for the spring in the hidden panel
  'Neath the tapestry ... ah! thou hast pressed it, sweet!
  --How black gulps open the secret channel!
  Now cautiously step, and thy bridal garb
  Swirled warm with a mantle o' fur ... she plants
  One foot--then a pause--on the stair--So, Barb,
  So!--If the tempest that barks and pants
  Would throttle itself with its yelps! then I
  Might hear but one footstep echo and sing
  Down the ugly ... there! 'tis her fingers try
  The massy bolts which the rust makes cling."
  But ever some whim of the wind that shook
  The clanging ring of a creaking hook
  In the buttress or wall; and we waited so
  Till the East grew gray. Did she come?--ah, no!

  I must tell you why, and enough: 'Tis said
  On the eve of the marriage she fled the side
  Of the baron, the bridegroom too she fled,
  With a mischievous laugh, "_I'll hide! I'll hide!_
  Seek! and be sure to seek well!" and led
  A wild chase after her, but defied
  All search for--a score and ten more years,
  And the laughter of Yule was changed to tears.
  But they searched and the snow was bleared with the glare
  Of torches that hurried thro' chamber and stair;
  And tower and court re-echoed her name,
  But she laughed no answer and never came.

  So over the channel to France with his King
  And the Black Prince, sailed to the wars--to deaden
  The ache of the mystery--Hugh that Spring,
  And fell at Poitiers: for his loss lay leaden
  On hope, and his life was a weary sadness,
  So he flung it away with a very gladness.
  And the baron died--and the bridegroom, well,--
  Unlucky that bridegroom, sooth!--to tell
  Of him there is nothing. The baron died;
  The last of the Strongbows he, gramercy!
  And the Clare estate with its wealth and its pride
  Devolved to the Bloets, Walter or Percy.

  Ten years and a score thereafter. And they
  Ransacked the old castle and mark!--one day
  In a lonesome tower uprummaged a chest
  From Flanders, of sinister ebon, carved
  Sardonic with masks 'round an olden crest,
  Gargoyle faces distorted and starved:
  Fast fixed with a spring which they forced and lo!
  When they opened it--ha, Hortense!--or, no!--
  Fantastic a skeleton jeweled and wreathed
  With flowers of dust, and a minever
  About it hugged, which quaint richness sheathed
  Of a bridal raiment and lace with fur.
  --I'd have given such years of my life--yes, well!--
  As were left me then so her lover, Hugh,
  For such time breathed as it took one to tell
  How she forever, deemed false, was true!
  He'd have known how it was, "For, you see, in groping
  For the puny spring of that panel--hoping
  And fearing as nearer and nearer grew
  The boisterous scramble--why, out she blew
  Her windy taper and quick--in this chest
  Wary would lie for--a minute, mayhap,
  Till the hurry all passed; but the death-lock pressed
  --Ere her heart was aware--with a hungry snap."



  You remember, the deep mist,--
    Climbing to the Devil's Den--
    Blue beneath us in the glen
  And above us amethyst,
  Throbbed and circled and away
    Thro' the wild-woods opposite,
    Torn and shattered, morning-lit,
  Scurried up a dewy gray.
  Vague as in Romance we saw
    From the fog one riven trunk,
    Its huge horny talons shrunk,
  Thrust a hungry dragon's claw.
  And we climbed two hours thro'
    The dawn-dripping Jellicoes,
    To that wooded rock that shows
  Undulating peaks of blue:
  The vast Cumberlands that sleep,
    Weighed with soaring forests, far
    To the concave welkin's bar,
  Leagues on leagues of purple sweep.
  Range exalted over range
    Billowed their enormous spines,
    And we heard the priestly pines
  Hum the wisdom of their change.
  We were sons of Nature then;
    She had taken us to her,
    Closer drawn by brier and burr,
  There on lonely Devil's Den.
  We were pupils of her moods:
    Taught the beauties of her loins
    In those bloom-anointed coignes,--
  Love in her eternal woods:
  How she bore or flower or bud;
    Pithed the wiry sapling-oak;
    In the long vine zeal awoke
  Aye to climb a leafy flood.
  Her waste fantasies of birth:
    Sponge-like exudations fair--
    Dainty fungi everywhere
  Bulging from the loamy earth.
  Coral-vegetable things;
    Crystals clamily exhaled;
    Bulbous, marble-ribbed and scaled,
  Vip'rous colored; then close rings
  Of the Indian Pipe that cleft
    Pink and white the woodland lax,--
    Blossoms of a natural wax
  The brown mountain-fairies left.
  We on that parched precipice,
    Stretched beneath the chestnuts' burrs,
    Breathed the balsam of the firs,
  Felt the blue sky like a kiss.
  Soft that heaven; stainless as
    The grand woodlands lunging on,
    Wound majestic in the sun,
  Or as our devotion was!
  Freedom sat there cragged we saw,
    Freedom whom hoarse forests sang;
    Heaven-browed her eyes, whence sprang
  Audience august with law.
  Wildernesses, from her hips
    Sprung the giant forests there,
    Tossed the cataracts from her hair,
  Thunders lightened from her lips.
  Oft some scavenger, with vane
    Motionless, above we knew
    Wheeled thro' altitudes of blue
  By his rapid shadow's stain.
  Or some cloud of sunny white,--
    Puffed a lazy drift of pearl,--
    Balmy breezes o'er would whirl
  Shot with coruscating light.
  So we dreamed an hour upon
    Those warm rocks, dry, lichen-scabbed.
    Lounged beneath long leaves that dabbed
  At us coins of shade and sun.
  Then arose and down some gorge
    Made a bowldered torrent broad
    The hurled pathway of our road
  Tumbled down the mountain large.
  At that farm-house, which you know,
    Where old-fashioned flowers spun
    Gay rag-carpets in the sun,
  By green apple-boughs built low,
  Rested from our hot descent;
    One deep draught of cider cool,
    Unctuous, our fierce veins to dull
  At old Hix's eloquent....
  On Wolf Mountain died the light;
    A colossal blossom, rayed
    With rent petaled clouds that played
  'Round a calyxed fury bright.
  Down the moist mint-scented vale
    To the mining camp we turned,
    Thro' the twilight faint discerned
  With its crowded cabins pale.
  Ah! those nights!--We wandered forth
    On some shadow-haunted path
    When the moon was late and rathe
  The large stars; sowed south and north,
  Clustered bursting heavens down:
    And the milky zodiac,
    Rolled athwart the belted black,
  Myriad-million-moted shone.
  And in dreams we sauntered till
    In the valley pale beneath,
    From a dew-drop's vapored breath
  To faint ghosts, there gathered still,
  Grave creations weird of mist:
    Then we knew the moonrise near,
    As with necromance the air
  Pulsed to pearl and amethyst.
  Shrilled the insects of the dusk,
    Grated, buzzed and strident sung
    Till each leaf seemed tuned and strung
  For high Pixy music brusque.
  Stealing steps and stealthy sighs
    As of near unhallowed things,
    Rustled hair or fluttered wings,
  Seemed about us; then the eyes
  Of plumed phantom warriors
    Burned mesmeric from some bush
    Mournful in the goblin hush,
  Then materialized to stars.
  Mantled mists like ambushed braves,
    Chiefed by some swart Blackfoot tall,
    Stole along each forest wall--
  Phosphorescent moony waves.
  Then the moon rose; from some cup
    Each hill's bowl,--magnetic shine,
    Mist and silence poured like wine,--
  Brimmed a monster goblet up.
  Ingot from lost orient mines,
    Delved by humpbacked gnomes of Night,
    Full her orb loomed, nacreous white,
  O'er Pine Mountain's druid pines.
  As thro' fragmentary fleece
    Her circumference polished broke,
    Orey-seamed, about us woke
  Myths of Italy and Greece.
  Then--a chanson serenade--
    You, rich-voiced, to your guitar
    To our goddess in that star
  Sang "_Ne Tempo_" from the glade.


  An agate black thy roguish eyes
  Claim no proud lineage of skies,
  No velvet blue, but of sweet Earth,
  Rude, reckless witchery and mirth.

  Looped in thy raven hair's repose,
  A hot aroma, one tame rose
  Dies envious of that beauty where,--
  By being near which,--it is fair.

  Thy ears,--two dainty bits of song
  Of unpretending charm, which wrong
  Would jewels rich, whose restless fire
  Courts coarse attention,--such inspire.

  Slim hands, that crumple listless lace
  About thy white breasts' swelling grace,
  And falter at thy samite throat,
  To such harmonious efforts float.

  Seven stars stop o'er thy balcony
  Cored in taunt heaven's canopy;
  No moon flows up the satin night
  In pearl-pierced raiment spun of light.

  From orange orchards dark in dew
  Vague, odorous lips the West wind blew,
  Or thou, a new Angelica
  From Ariosto, breath'd'st Cathay.

  Oh, stoop to me and speaking reach
  My soul like song, that learned low speech
  From some sad instrument, who knows?
  Or bloom,--a dulcimer or rose.



  Brows wan thro' blue-black tresses
    Wet with sharp rain and kisses;
  Locks loose the sea-wind scatters,
    Like torn wings fierce for flight;
  Cold brows, whose sadness flatters,
    One kiss and then--good-night.


  Can this thy love undo me
    When in the heavy waves?
  Nay; it must make unto me
    Their groaning backs but slaves!
  For its magic doth indue me
    With strength o'er all their graves.


  Weep not as heavy-hearted
    Before I go! For thou
  Wilt follow as we parted--
  A something hollow-hearted,
  Dark eyes whence cold tears started,
  Gray, ghostly arms out-darted
    To take me, even as now,
  To drag me, their weak lover,
  To caves where sirens hover,
  Deep caves the dark waves cover,
    Down! throat and hair and brow.


  But in thy sleep shalt follow--
    Thy bosom fierce to mine,
  Long arms wound warm and hollow,--
  In sleep, in sleep shalt follow,--
    To save me from the brine;
    Dim eyes on mine divine;
    Deep breath at mine like wine;
  Sweet thou, with dream-soft kisses
    To dream me onward home,
  White in white foam that hisses,
    Love's creature safe in foam.


  What, Hero, else for weeping
  Than long, lost hours of sleeping
  And vestal-vestured Dreams,
  Where thy Leander stooping
  Sighs; no dead eyelids drooping;
  No harsh, hard looks accusing;
  No curls with ocean oozing;
  But then as now he seems,
    Sweet-favored as can make him
  Thy smile, which is a might,
    A hope, a god to take him
  Thro' all this hell of night.


  Then where thy breasts are hollow
    One kiss! one kiss! I go!
  Sweet soul! a kiss to follow
  Up whence thy breasts bud hollow,
  Cheeks than wood-blossoms whiter,
  Eyes than dark waters brighter
    Wherein the far stars glow.
  Look lovely when I leave thee!--
    I go, my love, I go!
  Look lovely, love, nor grieve thee,
    That I must leave thee so.


  For the mountains' hoarse greetings came hollow
    From stormy wind-chasms and caves,
  And I heard their wild cataracts wallow
    Huge bulks in long spasms of waves,
  And that Demon said, "Lo! you must follow!
    And our path is o'er myriads of graves."

  Then I felt that the black earth was porous
    And rotten with worms and with bones;
  And I knew that the ground that now bore us
    Was cadaverous with Death's skeletons;
  And I saw horrid eyes, heard sonorous
    And dolorous gnashings and groans.

  But the night of the tempest and thunder,
    The might of the terrible skies,
  And the fire of Hell that,--coiled under
    The hollow Earth,--smoulders and sighs,
  And the laughter of stars and their wonder
    Mingled and mixed in its eyes.

  And we clomb--and the moon old and sterile
    Clomb with us o'er torrent and scar!
  And I yearned towards her oceans of beryl,
    Wan mountains and cities of spar--
  "'Tis not well," that one said, "you're in peril
    Of falling and failing your star."

  And we clomb--through a murmur of pinions,
    Thin rattle of talons and plumes;
  And a sense as of Boreal dominions
    Clove down to the abysms and tombs;
  And the Night's naked, Ethiope minions
    Swarmed on us in legions of glooms.

  And we clomb--till we stood at the portal
    Of the uttermost point of the peak,
  And it led with a step more than mortal
    Far upward some presence to seek;
  And I felt that this love was immortal,
    This love which had made me so weak.

  We had clomb till the limbo of spirits
    Of darkness and crime deep below
  Swung nebular; nor could we hear its
    Lost wailings and moanings of woe,--
  For we stood in a realm that inherits
    A vanquishing virgin of snow.


  Could I divine how her gray eyes
  Gat such cold haughtiness of skies;

  How, some wood-flower's shadow brown,
  Dimmed her fair forehead's wrath a frown;

  How, rippled sunshine blown thro' air,
  Tossed scorn her eloquence of hair;

  How to a folded bud again
  She drew her blossomed lips' disdain;

  Naught deigning save eyes' utterance,
  Star-words, which quicker reach the sense;

  Then, afterwards, how melted there
  The austere woman to one tear;

  Then were I wise to know how grew
  This star-stained miracle of blue,
  How God makes wild flowers out of dew.


  My heart is high, is high, my dear,
    And the warm wind sunnily blows;
  My heart is high with a mood that's cheer,
    And burns like a sun-blown rose.

  My heart is high, is high, my dear,
    And the Heaven's deep skies are blue;
  My heart is high as the passionate year,
    And smiles like a bud in dew.

  My heart, my heart is high, my sweet,
    For wild is the smell o' the wood,
  That gusts in the breeze with a pulse o' heat,
    Mad heat that beats like a blood.

  My heart, my heart is high, my sweet,
    And the sense of summer is full;
  A sense of summer,--full fields of wheat,
    Full forests and waters cool.

  My heart is high, is high, my heart,
    As the bee's that groans and swinks
  In the dabbled flowers that dart and part
    To his woolly bulk when he drinks.

  My heart is high, is high, my heart,--
    Oh, sing again, O good, gray bird,
  That I may get that lilt by heart,
    And fit each note with a word.

  God's saints! I tread the air, my dear!
    Flow one with the running wind;
  And the stars that stare I swear, my dear,
    Right soon in my hair I'll find.

  To live high up a life of mist
    With the white things in white skies,
  With their limbs of pearl and of amethyst,
    Who laugh blue humorous eyes!

  Or to creep and to suck like an elfin thing
    To the aching heart of a rose;
  In the harebell's ear to cling and swing
    And whisper what no one knows!

  To live on wild honey as fresh as thin
    As the rain that's left in a flower,
  And roll forth golden from feet to chin
    In the god-flower's Danaë shower!

  Or free, full-throated curve back the throat
    With a vigorous look at the blue,
  And sing right staunch with a lusty note
    Like the hawk hurled where he flew!

  God's life! the blood of the Earth is mine!
    And the mood of the Earth I'll take,
  And brim my soul with her wonderful wine,
    And sing till my heart doth break!



  Long vollies of wind and of rain
    And the rain on the drizzled pane,
    And the eve falls chill and murk;
  But on yesterday's eve I know
  How a horned moon's thorn-like bow
  Stabbed rosy thro' gold and thro' glow,
    Like a rich barbaric dirk.


  Now thick throats of the snapdragons,--
  Who hold in their hues cool dawns,
    Which a healthy yellow paints,--
  Are filled with a sweet rain fine
  Of a jaunty, jubilant shine,
  A faery vat of rare wine,
    Which the honey thinly taints.


  Now dabble the poppies shrink,
  And the coxcomb and the pink;
    While the candytuft's damp crown
  Droops dribbled, low bowed i' the wet;
  And long spikes o' the mignonette
  Little musk-sacks open set,
    Which the dripping o' dew drags down.


  Stretched taunt on the blades of grass,
  Like a gossamer-fibered glass,
    Which the garden-spider spun,
  The web, where the round rain clings
  In its middle sagging, swings;--
  A hammock for Elfin things
    When the stars succeed the sun.


  And mark, where the pale gourd grows
  Up high as the clambering rose,
    How that tiger-moth is pressed
  To the wide leaf's underside.--
  And I know where the red wasps hide,
  And the wild bees,--who defied
    The first strong gusts,--distressed.


  Yet I feel that the gray will blow
  Aside for an afterglow;
    And a breeze on a sudden toss
  Drenched boughs to a pattering show'r
  Athwart the red dusk in a glow'r,
  Big drops heard hard on each flow'r
    On the grass and the flowering moss.


  And then for a minute, may be,--
  A pearl--hollow worn--of the sea,--
    A glimmer of moon will smile;
  Cool stars rinsed clean on the dusk,
  A freshness of gathering musk
  O'er the showery lawns, as brusk
    As spice from an Indian isle.


  La _Gitanilla!_ tall dragoons
  In Andalusian afternoons,
  With ogling eye and compliment
  Smiled on you, as along you went
  Some sleepy street of old Seville;
  Twirled with a military skill
  Moustaches; buttoned uniforms
  Of Spanish yellow bowed your charms.

  Proud, wicked head and hair blue-black!
  Whence your mantilla, half thrown back,
  Discovered shoulders and bold breast
  Bohemian brown: and you were dressed--
  In some short skirt of gipsy red
  Of smuggled stuff; thence stockings dead
  White silk exposed with many a hole
  Thro' which your plump legs roguish stole
  A fleshly look; and tiny toes
  In red morocco shoes with bows
  Of scarlet ribbons. Daintily
  You walked by me and I did see
  Your oblique eyes, your sensuous lip,
  That gnawed the rose you once did flip
  At bashful Jose's nose while loud
  Laughed the guant guards among the crowd.
  And, in your brazen chemise thrust,
  Heaved with the swelling of your bust,
  That bunch of white acacia blooms
  Whiffed past my nostrils hot perfumes.

  As in a cool _neveria_
  I ate an ice with Mérimée,
  Dark Carmencita, you passed gay,
  All holiday bedizenéd,
  A new mantilla on your head;
  A crimson dress bespangled fierce;
  And crescent gold, hung in your ears,
  Shone wrought Morisco; and each shoe
  Cordovan leather, spangled blue,
  Glanced merriment; and from large arms
  To well-turned ancles all your charms
  Blew flutterings and glitterings
  Of satin bands and beaded strings;
  And 'round each arm's fair thigh one fold,
  And graceful wrists, a twisted gold
  Coiled serpents, tails fixed in the head,
  Convulsive-jeweled glossy red.
  In flowers and trimmings to the jar
  Of mandolin and low guitar
  You in the grated _patio_
  Danced; the curled coxcombs' flirting row
  Rang pleased applause. I saw you dance,
  With wily motion and glad glance
  Voluptuous, the wild _romalis_,
  Where every movement was a kiss
  Of elegance delicious, wound
  In your Basque tambourine's dull sound.
  Or as the ebon castanets
  Clucked out dry time in unctuous jets,
  Saw angry Jose thro' the grate
  Glare on us a pale face of hate,
  When some indecent colonel there
  Presumed too lewdly for his ear.

  Some still night in Seville; the street,
  _Candilejo_; two shadows meet--
  Flash sabres; crossed within the moon,--
  Clash rapidly--a dead dragoon.


  Hush! She is dead! Tread gently as the light
    Foots dim the weary room. Thou shalt behold.
  Look:--In death's ermine pomp of awful white,
    Pale passion of pulseless slumber virgin cold:
  Bold, beautiful youth proud as heroic Might--
    Death! and how death hath made it vastly old.

  Old earth she is now: energy of birth
    Glad wings hath fledged and tried them suddenly;
  The eyes that held have freed their narrow mirth;
    Their sparks of spirit, which made this to be,
  Shine fixed in rarer jewels not of earth,
    Far Fairylands beyond some silent sea.

  A sod is this whence what were once those eyes
    Will grow blue wild-flowers in what happy air;
  Some weed with flossy blossoms will surprise,
    Haply, what summer with her affluent hair;
  Blush roses bask those cheeks; and the wise skies
    Will know her dryad to what young oak fair.

  The chastity of death hath touched her so,
    No dreams of life can reach her in such rest;--
  No dreams the mind exhausted here below,
    Sleep built within the romance of her breast.
  How she will sleep! like musick quickening slow
    Dark the dead germs, to golden life caressed.

  Low musick, thin as winds that lyre the grass,
    Smiting thro' red roots harpings; and the sound
  Of elfin revels when the wild dews glass
    Globes of concentric beauty on the ground;
  For showery clouds o'er tepid nights that pass
    The prayer in harebells and faint foxgloves crowned.

  So, if she's dead, thou know'st she is not dead.
    Disturb her not; she lies so lost in sleep:
  The too-contracted soul its shell hath fled:
    Her presence drifts about us and the deep
  Is yet unvoyaged and she smiles o'erhead:--
    Weep not nor sigh--thou wouldst not have _her_ weep?

  To principles of passion and of pride,
    To trophied circumstance and specious law,
  Stale saws of life, with scorn now flung aside,
    From Mercy's throne and Justice would'st thou draw
  Her, Hope in Hope, and Chastity's pale bride,
    In holiest love of holy, without flaw?

  The anguish of the living merciless,--
    Mad, bitter cruelty unto the grave,--
  Wrings the dear dead with tenfold heart's distress,
    Earth chaining love, bound by the lips that rave.
  If thou hast sorrow let thy sorrow bless
    That power of death, of death our selfless slave.

  "Unjust?"--He is not! for hast thou not all,
    All that thou ever hadst when this dull clay
  So heartless, blasted now, flushed spiritual,
    A restless vassal of Earth's night and day?
  This hath been thine and is; the cosmic call
    Hath disenchanted that which might not stay.

  _Thou_ unjust!--bar not from its high estate,--
    Won with what toil thro' devastating cares:
  What bootless battling with the violent Fate;
    What mailed endeavor with resistless years;--
  That soul:--whole-hearted granted once thy mate,
    Heaven only loaned, return it not with tears!


  Cast on sleep there came to me
  Three Urgandas; and the sea
  In lost lands of Briogne
    Sounded moaning, moaning:
  Cloudy clad in awful white;
  And each face a lucid light
  Rayed and blossomed out of night,--
    And a wind was groaning.

  In my sleep I saw them rest,
  Each a long hand at her breast,
  A soft flame that lulls the West;--
    And the sea was moaning, moaning;--
  Hair like hoarded ingots rolled
  Down white shoulders glossy gold,
  Streaks of molten moonlight cold,--
    And a wind was groaning.

  Rosy 'round each high brow bent
  Four-fold starry gold that sent
  Barbs of fire redolent;--
    And the sea was moaning, moaning;--
  'Neath their burning crowns their eyes
  Burned like southern stars the skies
  Rock in shattered storm that flies,--
    And a wind was groaning.

  Wisdom's eyes of lurid dark;
  And each red mouth like a spark
  Flashed and laughed off care and cark,--
    And the sea was moaning, moaning;--
  Mouths for song and lips to kiss;
  Lips for hate and mouths to hiss;
  Lips that fashioned hell or bliss,--
    And the wind was groaning.

  Tall as stately virgins dead,
  Tapers lit at feet and head,
  'Round whom Latin prayers are said,--
    And the sea was moaning, moaning;--
  Or as vampire women, who,
  Buried beauties, rise and woo
  Youths whose blood they suck like dew,--
    And a wind was groaning.

  Then the west one said to me:
  "Thou hast slept thus holily
  While seven sands ran secretly."--
    And the sea was moaning, moaning;--
  "Earth hath served thee like a slave,
  Serving us who found thee brave,
  Fearless of or life or grave."--
    And a wind was groaning.

  "Know!"--she smote my brow; a pain,
  Riddling arrows, rent my brain,
  Ceased and earth fell, some vast strain;--
    And the sea was moaning, moaning;--
  Then I understood all thought;
  What was life the spirit fraught;
  Love and hate; how worlds were wrought:--
    And a wind was groaning.

  Then the east one said to me:
  "Thou hast wandered wearily
  By what mist-enveloped sea!"--
    And the sea was moaning, moaning;--
  "Know the things thou hast not seen;
  Life and law, and love and teen;
  Things that be and have not been."--
    And the wind was groaning.

  "See!" her voice sung like a lyre
  Throbs of thunderous desire;
  Then the iron sight like fire--
    And the sea was moaning, moaning;--
  Burst; the inner eyelids, which
  Husked clairvoyance, with a twitch
  Rose--and I with light was rich;--
    And a wind was groaning.

  Then I saw the eyes of Sleep;
  Nerves of Life and veins that leap;
  Laws of entity; the deep:--
    And the sea was moaning, moaning;--
  Orbs and eons; springs of Power;
  Circumstance--blown like a flower;--
  Time--the second of an hour:--
    And the wind was groaning.

  To the central third one's full
  Balanced being beautiful
  Heart, to hearken, made a lull,--
    And the sea was moaning, moaning;--
  As she sternly stooped to me:
  "Thou dost know and thou canst see;
  What thou art arise and be!"--
    And the wind was groaning.

  To my mouth hot lips she pressed;
  And my famished soul, thrice blessed,
  Quaffed her radiance and caressed:--
    And vague seas were moaning, moaning:--
  Mounted; star-vibrating fled;
  Soared to love, with her who said:
  "Thou dost live and thou art dead."--
    Far off winds were groaning.



  Ere wild haws, looming in the glooms,
  Build bolted drifts of breezy blooms;
  And in the whistling hollow there
  The red-bud bends as brown and bare
  As buxom Roxy's up-stripped arm;
  From some slick hickory or larch,
  Sighed o'er the sodden meads of March,
  The sad heart thrills and reddens warm
  To hear thee braving the rough storm,
  Frail courier of green-gathering powers,--
  Rebelling sap in trunks and flowers;
  Love's minister come heralding;
  O sweet saint-voice among bleak bowers!--
  Thou brown-red pursuivant of Spring!


  "_Moan_" sob the woodland cascades still
  Down bloomless ledges of the hill;
  And gray, gaunt clouds like harpies hang
  In harpy heavens, and swoop and clang
  Sharp beaks and talons of the wind:
  Black scowl the forests, and unkind
  The far fields as the near; while song
  Seems murdered and all passion, wrong.
  One wild frog only in the thaw
  Of spawny pools wakes cold and raw,
  Expires a melancholy bass
  And stops as if bewildered; then
  Along the frowning wood again,
  Flung in the thin wind's fangy face,
  Thou, in red, woolly tassels proud
  Of bannered maples, flutest loud:
  "_Her Grace! her Grace! her Grace!_"


  "Her Grace! her Grace! her Grace!"
  Climbs beautiful and sunny-browed
  Up, up the kindling hills and wakes
  Blue berries in the berry brakes;
  With fragrant flakes, that blow and bleach,
  Deep powders smothered quince and peach;
  Eyes dogwoods with a thousand eyes;
  Teaches each sod how to be wise
  With twenty wild-flowers for one weed;
  And kisses germs that they may seed.
  In purest purple and sweet white
  Treads up the happier hills of light;
  Bloom, cloudy-borne, song in her hair,
  Long dew-drops her pale fingers fair:
  Big wind-retainers, and the rains
  Her yeomen strong that flash the plains;
  While scarlet mists at dawn,--and gold
  At eve,--her panoply enfold.--
  Her herald tabarded behold!--
  Awake to greet! prepare to sing!
  She comes, the darling Duchess, Spring!"



  Sleep while I sing to thee, Dulcinea,--
  How like a shower of moonlight-crusted beams
  Of textile form compact, whose veins run stars,--
  Discovered goddess of what naked loves!--
  Maiden of dreams and aromatic sleep,
  Thou liest. Thy long instrument against
  Thy god-voluptuous sensuousness of hip
  Pure iridescent pearl of ocean slopes:
  Tempestuous silent color-melodies
  Pulse glimmering from it beaten by the moon,--
  Soft songs the white hands of white shadows touch.--
  Magnetic star set slumberous over night,
  Watch with me this superior star of Earth
  Good Heaven was kind to grant me: Trembler,
  Like some soft bird, dream, while I sing to thee--
  Dream, languid ardor, my Dulcinea, dream.


  Floats a wild chant of morning from the hills;
    Bursts a broad song of sunlight on the sea;
  High Heaven throbs strung with rays of chords and thrills,
    Life's resonant pæans to Earth's minstrelsy.
      Bind thou swift sandals on of youth,
      My love, and harp to me of truth
        In lands of joy or ruth.

  Now sheer o'er solitudes of noon the strife
    Of chariot fierce by chariot scintillant
  Flames, and the blade-bare charioteers for life,
    O'er-bent, close-curled, goad their hot yokes that pant.
      Haste not, my love, but from the beam
      Beside this olive-frosty stream
        Sing while I rest and dream.

  What swart Penthesilea, Amazon,
    Hath, smitten, hurled her shield, that crescent there;
  To wrench the barbéd arrow leaned,--voiced one
    Defiant shout, breathed her red life in air.--
      Tho' life be close to sunset, lo,
      Into the sunset let us go
        Still lyring joy not woe.

  How swims the Night thro' the deep-oceaned sky!
    How at pale lips blown stars like bubbles break,
  Burn, streamed from showery locks she tosses high!--
    A stronger swimmer, Death, glares in her wake.--
      Cast, love, ah cast thy harp away!
      Aweary am I of thy lay--
        Kneel down by me and pray.


  When love delays, when love delays and Joy
    Steals a strange shadow o'er the happy hills,
    And Hope smiles from To-morrow, nor fulfills
  One promise of To-day, thy sight would cloy
      This soul with loved despair
      By seeing thee so fair.

  When love delays, when love delays and song
    Aches at wild lips regretful, as the sound
    Of a whole sea strives in the shell-mouth bound,
  Tho' Hope smiles still to-morrowed, all this wrong
      Would, at one little word,
      Leap forth for thee a sword.

  When love delays, when love delays and sleep
    Nests in dark eyeballs, like a song of home
    Heard 'mid familiar flowers o'er the foam,
  Tho' Hope smiles still to-morrowed, thou wouldst steep
      This hurt heart overmuch
      In balm with one true touch.

  When love delays, when love delays and Sorrow
    Drinks her own tears that fever her soul's thirst,
    And song, and sleep, and memory seem accurst,
  For Hope smiles still to-morrowed, I would borrow
      One smile from thee to cheer
      The weary, weary year.

  When love delays, when love delays and Death
    Hath sealed dim lips and mocked young eyes with night,
    To love or hate locked calm, indifferent quite,--
  Hope's star-eyed acolyte,--what kisses' breath,
      What joys can slay regret
      Or teach thee to forget!


  Thou hast not loved her, hast not as thou shouldst,
    O narrow heart, that could not grasp so wide!
    And tho' thy oaths seemed oaths yet they have lied,
    And thy caresses, kisses were--denied--
  Thou hast not loved her, hast not as thou couldst.

  Thou hast not loved her, hast not as thou shouldst;
    O shallow eyes, that could not image deep!--
    Enough! what boots it tho' ye weep and weep?
    Her sleep is deep, too deep! so let her sleep--
  Thou hast not loved her, hast not as thou couldst.

  Thou hast not loved her, hast not as thou shouldst;
    For hadst thou, that confluent night and day
    Had in oblivion currents borne away
    Not one alone--but coward! thou didst stay--
  Thou hast not loved her, hast not as thou couldst!


  O Life, thou hast no power left to strive,
    Life, who, upon wild mountains of Surprise,
    Behold'st Love's citadelled, tall towers rise,--
  Shafts of clear, Paphian waters poured that live.

  O Hope, who sought'st fulfillment of deep dreams
    Beyond those Caucasus of Faith and Truth,--
    Twixt silver realms of eld and golden youth
  Rolled,--cloudward clustered; whose sonorous streams,

  Urned in the palms of Death, gush to his feet:
    Unlovely beauty of sad, stirless sight
    Mixed in them with eternity of night;--
  O Hope, how sad the journey once so sweet!

  Dreams crowned with thorns have passed thee on the way;
    And Beauties with bare limbs red-bruised and torn;
    Tall, holy Hours their eyes dull, wan and worn,
  Slaves manacled whom lashed the brutal Day.

  And Sorrow sat beside a sea so wide,
    That shoreless Heaven unto one little star
    Upon the brink of night seems not so far,
  And on her feet the frail foams tossing sighed.

  She, her rent hair, dressed like a siren's, full
    Of weedy waifs and strays of moaning shells,
    Streaked with the glimmering sands and foamy bells,
  Loomed a pale utterance most beautiful.

  "And thou shall love me, Sorrow!" I; but she
    Turned her vast eyes upon me and no more;
    Their melancholy language clove the core
  Of my fast heart; and in mine ears the sea

  Along gaunt crags yearned iron-husky grief;
    Groaned the hard headlands with the wings of Storm,
    Huge thunder shook the foot-hills and Alarm
  Gnashed her thin fangs from hissing reef to reef.

  So to the hills aweary I did turn.--
    Beyond, a reach of sunlight and slim flowers;
    Where Hope, an amaranth, and tearless Hours,
  Long lilies, lived, whose hearts stiff gold did burn.

  And there curled Joy clinked their chaste chalices;
    Distilled at dusk, poured bubbling dewy wine,
    Divine elixir! off his lips divine
  Tossed the fleet rapture to the golden lees,

  And so lolled dazed with pleasure. And I said,
    "Yield me the lily thou hast drained that I
    This hollow thirst may kill and so not die?"
  To me he laughed, "I yield it!"--but 'twas dead.

  And each blown reach and eminence of blooms
    Flushed long, low, gurgling murmurs like a sea,
    And laughed bright lips that flashed white teeth of glee
  In pearly flower on flower; pure perfumes

  Gasped the rolled fields; and o'er the eminence
    I journeyed joyless thro' a blossom-fire
    That, budding kisses curled with blown desire,
  Clasped me and claimed me tho' I spurned it hence.

  Then came unto a land of thorns and weeds,
    And dust and thirst o'er which a songless sky,
    Hoarse with lean vultures, scowled a scoffing lie,
  Where cold snakes hissed among dead, rattling reeds.

  And there I saw the bony brow of Hate;
    Vile, vicious sneers, the eyes of shriveled Scorn
    Among the writhing briers; each a thorn
  Of cavernous hunger barbed with burning fate.

  They, thro' her face-drawn locks of raveled dark,
    Stung a stark horror; and I felt my heart
    Freeze, wedged with ice, to dullness part by part,
  And knew Hate coiled toward me yet stood stark--

  Fell; seeing on the happy, happy hills,
    Above that den of dust and thorny thirst,
    The bastioned walls of Love in glory burst,
  Built by sweet glades of Poesy and rills.

  O Life, I had not life enough to strive!
    O Hope, I had not hope enough to dream!
    Death drew me to him and to sigh did seem,
  "Love? Love?--thou canst not reach her and yet live!

  "For sorrow, joy, and hate, and scorn are bound
    About thee, girdling so, thy lips are dumb;
    And Fame, ah Fame! her towers are but a tomb--
  Star-set on dwindling heights of starry ground.

  "And thou art done and being done must die,
    Endeavor being dead and energy
    Slain, a wild bird that beat bars to be free,
  Despairing perished, finding life a lie."


  If thou wouldst know the Beautiful that breathes
    Consanguined with young Earth, go seek!--but seek
  No sighing Shadows with dead hemlock-wreaths,
    No sleepy Sorrows whose wan eyes are weak
  With vanished vigils, Melancholy made,
  Forlorn, in lands of sin and saddening shade;
  No tearful Angers torn of truthless Love,
    Who stab their own hearts to dull daggers' hilts
  For vengeance sweet; no miser Moods that fade
  In owlet towers. Such it springs above,
    And buds on morning meads no flower that wilts.

  If thou dost seek the Beautiful, beware!
    Lest thou discover her, nor know 'tis she;
  And she enslave thee evermore, and there
    Reward thee with but kingliest beggary:
  Make thine the robust red her cheek that stings;
  The kiss-sweet odor, thine, her wild breath brings;
  Make thine the broad bloom of her crownéd brow;
    The hearts of light that ardor her proud eyes;
  That melody,--which is herself,--that sings
  The poem of her presence and the vow,
    That stars exalts and mortals deifies.

  Lone art thou then, lone as the lone first star
    Kindling pale beauty o'er the mournful wave;
  Lost to all happiness save searching far
    Thro' lands of Life where Death hath delved no grave:
  Lost,--even as I,--a devotee to her,
  Poor in world-blessedness her bliss to share,
  But rich in passion.--For her hermitage
    Hope no Hydaspes' splendor, for it lies
  Mossy by woody waters hidden, where
  She, priestess pure, wise o'er all Wisdom sage,
    Shrines artists' hearts for godliest sacrifice.



  Then up the orient heights to the zenith that balanced a crescent,--
  Up and far up and over,--a warm erubescence liquescent
  Rioted roses and rubies; eruptions of opaline gems,
  Flung and wide sown, blushed crushed, and crumbled from diadems
  Wealth of the kings of the Sylphs; whence, old alchemist, Earth--
  Dewed down--by chemistry occult fashions petrified waters of
  Then out of the stain and rash furor, the passionate pulver of
  The trembling suffusion that dazzled and awfully shone,
  Chamelion-convulsion of color, hilarious ranges of glare--
  Like a god who for vengeance ires, nodding battle from every hair,
  Fares forth with majesty girdled and clangs with hot heroes for
  Till the brazen gates boom bursten hells and the walls roar
          bristling strife,--
  Athwart with a stab of glittering fire, in-plunged like a knife,
  Cut billowing gold, in bullion rolled, and an army driven,
  Routed, the stars fled shriveled; and the white moon riven,
  Puffed,--like a foam-feather forth of a Triton's conch when
  Clung, vague as a web, on heaven; then weak as a face that is
  Died on the withering clouds and sorrowed with them and mingled.
  While up and up with a steadiness and triumph of sparkle that
  Wrestled the tempest of Dawn, that hurricaned heaven with spangle,
  And halcyon bloom like mercy,--a shatter, a scatter, a tangle
  Of labyrinthed glory.--O God! with manifold mirth
  The hallelujah of Heaven, hosanna of Earth.


  And I in my vision imprisoned was restless and wan
  With a yearning for vigor to gird and be gone
  Out of false dreams to the true--realities noble of dawn.



  Vanishing visions, whose lineaments steal into slumbers,
  Loosened the lids of the sight the night that encumbers;
  Secretly, sweetly with fingers of fog that were slow,
            Slow as a song that mysterious
            Passions the soul, till delirious,
  Wrapped in mad melody mastering the uttermost woe,
  Deep to the innermost deep it is shaken
            Ruffled and rippled and tossed,
  Tantalized, terrorized, cursed with a thirst that, unslaken,
  Debauches with eyes that burn stolid, yet only shall waken
            With infinite scorn of the cost
            If no note of the rhapsody's lost.


  Oh, for the music of moonbeams that master and sweep
            Chords of the resonant deep!
  Smiting loud lyres of Night, sonorous as fire,
  Leap fluttering fingers of vanquishing flash and of flake
  Fain at each firmament-universe-instrument star-strung.
  Vibrating-vestured in garments of woven desire,
  Stoop to me, breathe on me, smile on me, waver, "_Awake!
  From waking to sleeping, to silence from manifold clamor,
  To revelous regions of multiform glamour!_"
            Murmur and whisper "_Awake!_"
  Oh, necromance banquets by fountains of fairy, the spar-sprung!
  Oh, sorcerous beauties and wonders of wizards! oh take
            The millions of morning-spun gleams,
            All glitters of galloping streams,
  The glimmer the gasp the clutch and the grasp,
  That colorless crystals and virtuous jewels
            As spasmodic fuels
            Cuddle and huddle and clasp:
  The wrinkle and crinkle of scintillant heat in white metals;
  The quiver of terrible gold and the pearly
  Lithe brilliance of soft, holy petals,
  Of slender, sad blossoms, tumultuous tossed crispy and curly
  In shadowy reaches of violet dark;
  The burn of the stars and the spark
  Fragile of foams that are fluted, to make
            One cordial of dreams
            To drink and to sink
          Deep, deep into dreams nor awake.



  As to a Nymph in the ripple-ribbed body of ocean,
  Down, down thro' vast stories of water, a hiss and devour
  Electrify altitudes orbed,--pulses violent motion
  Of Thunder, who treads the brute neck of the seas in his power,
  Till their spine writhes lumped into waves,--the Nymph in her bower,
  Rubbing moist sleep from her eyes, arises,--
          Loosens the loops of her locks,
  Loosens, and suddenly darts on the storm and surprises
          The boisterous bands of the rocks,
  That hoot to the riddling arrows of rain and of seas,
          Mountainous these;--
          Swirling and whirling,
  She of the huge exultation beheld, with long tresses,
  Dotted with bells of the hollow, hard foam, flung streaming,
  Dives, bounds to the whirlwind embracing; then mockingly presses
  Hair to wild face and wild throat, drifts desolate dreaming;
  With scorn then laughing and screaming,
  Discovers full beauty of nakedness leaping and gleaming;
  And showering the rain from her hair,
  Pouts blown, curdled foam from her lips,
          And eddying slips,
  From the ravenous eyes of the Thunder that glare,
          Away, away,
  To the arms of her lover the Spray.
          So I,--
  At swift thoughts that were spoken, that came
  As if winds had fashioned a speech--was a flame
  That dwindled, was kindled, then mounted and,
          Marvelling why,--
  Stemming all thought, a gleam out of gleams
          Was born into dreams.


  Beautiful-bosomed, O Night! with thy moon,
  Move in majesty slowly to majesty lightly!
  Silent as sleep, who is lulled by a delicate tune,
  O'er-stroke thou the air with a languor of moonlight brightly!
  Thin ice, in sockets of turquoise fastened, the stars
  Gash golden the bosom of heaven with fiery scars.
          Swoon down, O shadowy hosts,
          O multitude ghosts,
  Of the moonlight and starlight begotten!--Then swept
  Whispers that sighed to me, sorrows that stealthily hovered,
  Laughters with lips that were mist. And murmurings crept
  On toward me feet that were glow; and faces uncovered,
          Radiant and crystalline clear,
  In tortuous, sinuous swirl of vapory pearl,
          Waned near and more near.
  Flashed faster a spiral of shapes and of shadows still faster,
  On in a whirl of unutterable beauties by music expired,
          That lived and desired,--
  Born births of the brain of a rhapsody-reveling master;
          And mine eyes, with their beauties infired,
  Smiled scorn on dark Death and Disaster.


  "Ah! now the orchard's leaves are sear,
    Drip not with starlight-litten dew;
  Green-drowned no moon-bright fruit hangs here;
    Dead, dead your long, white lilies too--
    And you, Allita, where are you!"

  Then comes her dim touch, faintly warm;
    Cool hair sense on my feverish cheek;
  Dim eyes at mine deep with some charm,--
    So gray! so gray! and I am weak
    Weak with wild tears and can not speak.

  I am as one who walks with dreams:
    Sees as in youth his father's home;
  Hears from his native mountain-streams
    Far music of continual foam.



  I wot well o' his going
    To think in flowers fair;--
  His a right kind heart, my dear,
    To give the grass such hair.


  I wot well o' his lying
    Such nights out in the cold,--
  To list the cricket's crick, my sweet,
    To see the glow-worm's gold.


  An mine eyes be laughterful,
    Well may they laugh, I trow,--
  Since two dead eyes a yesternight
    Gazed in them sad enow.


  An my heart make moan and ache,
    Well may it dree, I'm sure;--
  He is dead and gone, my love,
    And it is beggar poor.


  In samite sark yclad was she;
    And that fair glimmerish band of gold
  Which crowned long, savage locks of hair
          In the moon brent cold.

  She with big eyeballs gloomed and glowered,
    And lightly hummed some Elfin's song,
  And one could naught save on her stare
          And fare along.

  Yea; sad and lute-like was that song
    And softly said its mystery;
  Which quaintly sang in elden verse
          "Thy love I'll be."

  And oft it said: "I love thee true,
    Sir Ewain, champion of the fair."
  And never wist he what a witch
          Was that one there.

  And never wist he that a witch
    Had bound him with her wily hair,
  Eke with dark art had ta'en his heart
          To slay him there.

  And all his soul did wax amort
    To stars, to hills, to slades, to streams,
  And it but held that sorceress fair
          As one of dreams.

  And now he kens some castle gray
    Wild turrets ivied, in the moon,
  Old, where through woodlands foaming on
          A torrent shone....

  In its high hall full twenty knights
    With visors barred all sternly stand;
  The following of some gracious brave,
          Lord of the land.

  And lo! when that dim damosel
    Moved down the hall, they louted low;
  And she was queen of all that band,
          That dame of snow.

  Now on that knight she stared eftsoons,
    And cried on high unto her crew,
  "Behold! Sir Knights, the dastard brave
          Your king that slew."

  And all those heathen knights wox wild
    Attonce; and all against him drave;
  Long battle blades and daggers bright
          Aloft did wave.

  The press on him puissant bare
    And smote him to the rush-strown earth;--
  Tall, tall o'er all that Fairy rose
          Aloud with mirth.



  What deity for dozing laziness
    Devised the lounging coziness of this
  Enchanted nook?--and how!--did I distress
    His musing ease that fled but now, or his
  Laughed frolic with some forest-sister, fair
  As those wild hill-carnations are and rare?
  Too true, alas!--Feel! the wild moss is warm
    And moist with late reclining, as the palm
    Of what hot Hamadryad, who, a-nap,
  Props her hale cheek upon it, while her arm
    Weak wind-flowers bury; in her hair the balm
    Of a whole Spring of blossoms and of sap?


  See, how the dented moss, that pads the hump
    Of these distorted roots, elastic springs
  From that god's late departure; lump by lump,
    Pale tufts impressed twitch loose in nervous rings,
  As crowding stars qualm thro' gray evening skies.
  Indulgence grant thou my profane surprise,
  Pray!--then to dream where thou didst dream before,
    Benevolent! ... here where the veiny leaves
    Bask broad the fuzzy bosoms of their hands
  O'er wistful waters: 'neath this sycamore,
    Smooth, giraffe-brindled, where each ripple weaves
    A twinkling quiver as of marching bands


  Of Elfin chivalry, that, helmed with gold,
    Split spilled the scaley sunbeams wrinkled off.
  What brought thee here?--This wind that steals the old
    Weird legends from the forests, with a scoff
  To laugh them thro' their beards? Or, in those weeds,
  The hermit brook so busy with his beads?--
  How many _Aves_, _Paters_ doth he say
    In one droned minute on his rosary
    Of bubbles--wot'st thou?--Pucker-eyed didst mark
  Yon lank hag-tapers, yellow by yon way,
    A haggard company of seven?--See
    How dry swim by such curled brown bits of bark?


  Didst mark the ghostly gold of this grave, still,
    Conceited minnow thro' these twisted roots,
  Thrust o'er the smoky topaz of this rill,
    Dull-slumbering here? Or did those insect flutes--
  Sleepy with sunshine--buzz thee that forlorn
  Tale of Tithonus and the bashful Morn?
  Until two tears gleamed in the stealing stream
    Trembling its polish o'er the winking grail?--
    Nay! didst perplex thee with some poet plan
  To drug this air with beauty to make dream,--
    Ah, discreet Cunning, watching in yon vale!--
    Me, wildwood-wandered from the marts of Man!

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

There are some strange words, which have been retained, as the author
may have been using 'poetic licence':

e.g. 'aventured spears', which may have been quartz-tipped (aventurine);
'beryle', possibly referring to the color of beryl (light green, etc.);
'bowldered', alternative spelling for 'bouldered'; 'guant', which may be
'gaunt misspelled, or it may refer to a bird (guan)... "Laughed the
guant guards among the crowd"; etc. And 'accompaning' still needs to
elide the second 'a' to fit the metre.

Some words are obviously ancient, or dialectic, and some are akin to
some of the words in the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins.
The transcriber prefers not to change anything the author wrote, as a
slightly different spelling may also imply a slightly different

There are, however, two probable printer's errors, which have been

Page 129: 'passsion' corrected to 'passion': "To principles of passion
and of pride,"

Page 154: Removed extraneous 'the':
  "That hoot to the (the) riddling arrows of rain and of seas,"

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Accolon of Gaul - with Other Poems" ***

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