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Title: The Complete Poetic and Dramatic Works of Robert Browning - Cambridge Edition
Author: Browning, Robert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Complete Poetic and Dramatic Works of Robert Browning - Cambridge Edition" ***

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    The Cambridge Edition of the Poets









    Cambridge Edition

    [Illustration: _Asolo: Browning's Italian Home_]

    The Riverside Press, Cambridge

    Copyright, 1895,

    _All rights reserved._

    _The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A._
    Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.


The Riverside Edition of the _Poetic and Dramatic Works of Robert
Browning_ was published first in 1887. It included all the writings
which the American publishers had from time to time brought out by
arrangement with Mr. Browning or his representatives. A year later
the English publishers issued a new and revised edition, whereupon
the Riverside Edition was carefully compared with the author's latest
revision and made to agree with it. There had grown up, moreover,
about the writings a considerable body of comment and interpretation,
and to facilitate the study and enjoyment of the poems, the American
publishers engaged Mr. George Willis Cooke to prepare a _Guide-Book_
which served as a very desirable accompaniment to the Riverside Edition
of the works. They added also to the series, by arrangement with the
English publishers, the authorized Life of the poet by Mrs. Sutherland

The ten volumes thus brought together furnish a complete Browning
collection, but it has long been apparent that students and lovers of
Browning would find it very convenient to have the complete works of
their author in a single portable volume, and the plan of the Cambridge
Edition so successfully applied to the poems of Longfellow and Whittier
was adopted for this purpose. By a careful study of condensation with
every regard for legibility it has been found possible to bring the
entire body of Browning's work into a single volume, and to equip the
edition with the requisite apparatus. The order of arrangement is
chronological, with one or two obvious divergences. As in the other
volumes of the Cambridge Edition, a biographical sketch introduces
the work, brief head-notes chiefly pertaining to the origin of the
respective poems have been supplied, drawn largely from Mr. Cooke's
admirable volume, and a small body of pertinent notes of an explanatory
character added, though the reader will readily see that the exigencies
of the volume have compelled the editor to be very frugal in this
respect. The appendix also contains the one notable piece of Browning's
prose, a chronological list of his writings, and indexes of titles and
first lines.

BOSTON, 4 PARK STREET, _August 1, 1895_.


    BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH                                         ix

    PAULINE: A FRAGMENT OF A CONFESSION                          1

      KNOW!)"                                                   11

        I. PARACELSUS ASPIRES                                   12
       II. PARACELSUS ATTAINS                                   19
      III. PARACELSUS                                           25
       IV. PARACELSUS ASPIRES                                   34
        V. PARACELSUS ATTAINS                                   40

    STRAFFORD: A TRAGEDY                                        49

    SORDELLO                                                    74

    PIPPA PASSES: A DRAMA                                      128

    KING VICTOR AND KING CHARLES: A TRAGEDY                    145

            I. MARCHING ALONG                                  163
           II. GIVE A ROUSE                                    163
          III. BOOT AND SADDLE                                 163
        THE LOST LEADER                                        164
        THROUGH THE METIDJA TO ABD-EL-KADR                     165
        NATIONALITY IN DRINKS                                  166
            I. THE FLOWER'S NAME                               166
           II. SIBRANDUS SCHAFNABURGENSIS                      167
        SOLILOQUY OF THE SPANISH CLOISTER                      167
        THE LABORATORY                                         168
        THE CONFESSIONAL                                       169
        CRISTINA                                               169
        THE LOST MISTRESS                                      170
        EARTH'S IMMORTALITIES                                  170
        MEETING AT NIGHT                                       170
        PARTING AT MORNING                                     170
        SONG: "NAY BUT YOU, WHO DO NOT LOVE HER"               170
        A WOMAN'S LAST WORD                                    171
        EVELYN HOPE                                            171
        LOVE AMONG THE RUINS                                   171
        A LOVERS' QUARREL                                      172
        UP AT A VILLA--DOWN IN THE CITY                        174
        A TOCCATA OF GALUPPI'S                                 175
        OLD PICTURES IN FLORENCE                               176
        "DE GUSTIBUS--"                                        178
        HOME-THOUGHTS, FROM ABROAD                             179
        HOME-THOUGHTS, FROM THE SEA                            179
        SAUL                                                   179
        MY STAR                                                184
        BY THE FIRESIDE                                        185
        ANY WIFE TO ANY HUSBAND                                187
        TWO IN THE CAMPAGNA                                    189
        MISCONCEPTIONS                                         189
        A SERENADE AT THE VILLA                                189
        ONE WAY OF LOVE                                        190
        ANOTHER WAY OF LOVE                                    190
        A PRETTY WOMAN                                         190
        RESPECTABILITY                                         191
        LOVE IN A LIFE                                         191
        LIFE IN A LOVE                                         191
        IN THREE DAYS                                          192
        IN A YEAR                                              192
        WOMEN AND ROSES                                        193
        BEFORE                                                 193
        AFTER                                                  194
        THE GUARDIAN-ANGEL                                     194
        MEMORABILIA                                            195
        POPULARITY                                             195
        MASTER HUGHES OF SAXE-GOTHA                            195

    THE RETURN OF THE DRUSES                                   197

    A BLOT IN THE 'SCUTCHEON                                   216

    COLOMBE'S BIRTHDAY                                         230

        INCIDENT OF THE FRENCH CAMP                            251
        THE PATRIOT                                            251
        MY LAST DUCHESS                                        252
        COUNT GISMOND                                          252
        THE BOY AND THE ANGEL                                  253
        INSTANS TYRANNUS                                       254
        MESMERISM                                              255
        THE GLOVE                                              256
        TIME'S REVENGES                                        258
        THE ITALIAN IN ENGLAND                                 258
        THE ENGLISHMAN IN ITALY                                260
        IN A GONDOLA                                           262
        WARING                                                 264
        THE TWINS                                              266
        A LIGHT WOMAN                                          267
        THE LAST RIDE TOGETHER                                 267
        THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN                              268
        THE FLIGHT OF THE DUCHESS                              271
        A GRAMMARIAN'S FUNERAL                                 279
        THE HERETIC'S TRAGEDY                                  280
        HOLY-CROSS DAY                                         281
        PROTUS                                                 283
        THE STATUE AND THE BUST                                283
        PORPHYRIA'S LOVER                                      286
        "CHILDE ROLAND TO THE DARK TOWER CAME"                 287

    A SOUL'S TRAGEDY                                           289

    LURIA                                                      299


    CHRISTMAS-EVE                                              316
    EASTER-DAY                                                 327

        HOW IT STRIKES A CONTEMPORARY                          336
        ARTEMIS PROLOGIZES                                     337
          OF KARSHISH, THE ARAB PHYSICIAN                      338
        JOHANNES AGRICOLA IN MEDITATION                        341
        PICTOR IGNOTUS                                         341
        FRA LIPPO LIPPI                                        342
        ANDREA DEL SARTO                                       346
        BISHOP BLOUGRAM'S APOLOGY                              349
        CLEON                                                  358
        RUDEL TO THE LADY OF TRIPOLI                           361
        ONE WORD MORE                                          361

    IN A BALCONY                                               364

    BEN KARSHOOK'S WISDOM                                      372

           I. JAMES LEE'S WIFE SPEAKS AT THE WINDOW            373
          II. BY THE FIRESIDE                                  373
         III. IN THE DOORWAY                                   373
          IV. ALONG THE BEACH                                  374
           V. ON THE CLIFF                                     374
          VI. READING A BOOK, UNDER THE CLIFF                  374
         VII. AMONG THE ROCKS                                  375
        VIII. BESIDE THE DRAWING-BOARD                         375
          IX. ON DECK                                          376
        GOLD HAIR: A STORY OF PORNIC                           376
        THE WORST OF IT                                        378
        DÎS ALITER VISUM; OR, LE BYRON DE NOS JOURS            379
        TOO LATE      380
           MUSICAL INSTRUMENT OF HIS INVENTION                 382
        RABBI BEN EZRA                                         383
        A DEATH IN THE DESERT                                  385
           ISLAND                                              392
        CONFESSIONS                                            394
        MAY AND DEATH                                          395
        DEAF AND DUMB: A GROUP BY WOOLNER                      395
        PROSPICE                                               395
        YOUTH AND ART                                          396
        A FACE                                                 396
        A LIKENESS                                             396
        MR. SLUDGE, "THE MEDIUM"                               397
        APPARENT FAILURE                                       412
        EPILOGUE                                               413

           I. THE RING AND THE BOOK                            414
          II. HALF-ROME                                        427
         III. THE OTHER HALF-ROME                              441
          IV. TERTIUM QUID                                     456
           V. COUNT GUIDO FRANCESCHINI                         471
          VI. GIUSEPPE CAPONSACCHI                             489
         VII. POMPILIA                                         508
        VIII. Dominus Hyacinthus de Archangelis, Pauperum
                Procurator                                     525
                FISCI ET REV. CAM. APOSTOL. ADVOCATUS          540
           X. THE POPE                                         554
          XI. GUIDO                                            572
         XII. THE BOOK AND THE RING                            594

    HELEN'S TOWER                                              601

      EURIPIDES,                                               602



        PROLOGUE                                               701
        FIFINE AT THE FAIR                                     702
        EPILOGUE                                               735


    THE INN ALBUM                                              773

        PROLOGUE       802
        AT THE "MERMAID"                                       807
        HOUSE                                                  808
        SHOP                                                   809
        PISGAH-SIGHTS                                          810
        FEARS AND SCRUPLES                                     811
        NATURAL MAGIC                                          811
        MAGICAL NATURE                                         812
        BIFURCATION                                            812
        NUMPHOLEPTOS                                           812
        APPEARANCES                                            814
        ST. MARTIN'S SUMMER                                    814
        HERVE RIEL                                             815
        A FORGIVENESS                                          817
        CENCIAJA                                               820
        EPILOGUE                                               827

    THE AGAMEMNON OF ÆSCHYLUS                                  830

    LA SAISIAZ                                                 849

    THE TWO POETS OF CROISIC                                   859

    OH LOVE! LOVE                                              874

        MARTIN RELPH                                           875
        PHEIDIPPIDES                                           877
        HALBERT AND HOB                                        879
        IVAN IVANOVITCH                                        880
        TRAY                                                   887
        NED BRATTS                                             887

        PROLOGUE                                               892
        ECHETLOS                                               892
        CLIVE                                                  893
        MULÉYKEH                                               897
        PIETRO OF ABANO                                        899
        DOCTOR ----                                            906
        PAN AND LUNA                                           909
        TOUCH HIM NE'ER SO LIGHTLY                             910
    THE BLIND MAN TO THE MAIDEN                                910
    GOLDONI                                                    910

        WANTING IS--WHAT?                                      911
        DONALD                                                 911
        SOLOMON AND BALKIS                                     913
        CRISTINA AND MONALDESCHI                               914
        MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT AND FUSELI                         916
        ADAM, LILITH, AND EVE                                  916
        IXION                                                  916
        JOCHANAN HAKKADOSH                                     918
        NEVER THE TIME AND THE PLACE                           928
        PAMBO                                                  928

        PROLOGUE                                               929
           I. THE EAGLE                                        929
          II. THE MELON-SELLER                                 930
         III. SHAH ABBAS                                       930
          IV. THE FAMILY                                       932
           V. THE SUN                                          933
          VI. MIHRAB SHAH                                      934
         VII. A CAMEL-DRIVER                                   936
        VIII. TWO CAMELS                                       937
          IX. CHERRIES                                         938
           X. PLOT-CULTURE                                     939
          XI. A PILLAR AT SEBZEVAR                             940
         XII. A BEAN-STRIPE: ALSO APPLE-EATING                 942
        EPILOGUE                                               946
    RAWDON BROWN                                               947
    THE FOUNDER OF THE FEAST                                   947
    THE NAMES                                                  947
    EPITAPH ON LEVI LINCOLN THAXTER                            947
    WHY I AM A LIBERAL                                         948

        APOLLO AND THE FATES                                   948
        WITH BERNARD DE MANDEVILLE                             952
        WITH DANIEL BARTOLI                                    955
        WITH CHRISTOPHER SMART                                 959
        WITH GEORGE BUBB DODINGTON                             961
        WITH FRANCIS FURINI                                    964
        WITH GERARD DE LAIRESSE                                970
        WITH CHARLES AVISON                                    974
        FUST AND HIS FRIENDS: AN EPILOGUE                      979

        PROLOGUE                                               987
        ROSNY                                                  987
        DUBIETY                                                987
        NOW                                                    988
        HUMILITY                                               988
        POETICS                                                988
        SUMMUM BONUM                                           988
        A PEARL, A GIRL                                        988
        SPECULATIVE                                            988
        WHITE WITCHCRAFT                                       989
        BAD DREAMS. I.                                         989
        BAD DREAMS. II.                                        989
        BAD DREAMS. III.                                       990
        BAD DREAMS. IV.                                        990
        INAPPREHENSIVENESS                                     991
        WHICH?                                                 991
        THE CARDINAL AND THE DOG                               991
        THE POPE AND THE NET                                   992
        THE BEAN-FEAST                                         992
        MUCKLE-MOUTH MEG                                       993
        ARCADES AMBO                                           993
    THE LADY AND THE PAINTER                                   993
    PONTE DELL' ANGELO, VENICE                                 994
    BEATRICE SIGNORINI                                         996
    FLUTE-MUSIC, WITH AN ACCOMPANIMENT                         999
    "IMPERANTE AUGUSTO NATUS EST--"                           1001
    DEVELOPMENT                                               1002
    REPHAN                                                    1003
    REVERIE                                                   1005
    EPILOGUE                                                  1007

          I. AN ESSAY ON SHELLEY                              1008
         II. NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS                          1014
        III. A List of Mr. Browning's Poems and Dramas,
               arranged in the order of first publication
               in book form                                   1023

    INDEX OF FIRST LINES OF POEMS                             1027

    GENERAL INDEX OF TITLES                                   1031


If one sought to build any genealogical structure to account for Robert
Browning's genius, he would find but slight foundation in fact, though
what he found would be substantial so far as it went. Browning's father
was a bank clerk in London; his father again was a bank clerk. Both
of these Brownings were christened Robert. The father of the poet's
grandfather was Thomas Browning, an innkeeper and small proprietor
in Dorsetshire, and his stock apparently was west-country English.
Browning himself liked to believe that an earlier ancestor was a
certain Captain Micaiah Browning who raised the siege of Derry in 1689
by an act of personal bravery which cost him his life. It is most to
the point that Browning was London born with two generations of city
Londoners behind him. His mother was Sarah Anne--a name which became
Sarianna in the poet's sister--Wiedemann, the Scottish daughter of a
Hamburg German, a shipowner in Dundee.

The characters of the poet's parents are clearly defined. Robert
Browning, senior, was a man of business who performed his business
duties punctiliously, and by frugality acquired a tolerably comfortable
fortune, but he was not a money-making man; his real life was in his
books and in the gratification of literary and æsthetic tastes. He was
a voracious reader, and in a prudent way a book and print collector.
"It was his habit," says Mrs. Orr, "when he bought a book--which was
generally an old one allowing of this addition--to have some pages of
blank paper bound into it. These he filled with notes, chronological
tables, or such other supplementary matter as would enhance the
interest, or assist the mastering, of its contents: all written in
a clear and firm, though by no means formal, handwriting." He had a
talent for versifying which he used for his entertainment; he had
a cheerful nature and that genuine sociability which made him a
delightful companion in the small circle which satisfied his simple,
ingenuous nature. He was born and bred in the Church of England, but in
middle life became by choice a Dissenter, though never an exclusive one.

Mrs. Browning, the poet's mother, was once described by Carlyle as "the
true type of a Scottish gentlewoman." She inherited from her father a
love for music and drawing which in him was manifested in execution, in
her in good taste and appreciation. She was a woman of serene, gentle
and affectionate nature, and of simple, earnest religious belief.
She was brought up in the kirk of Scotland, but, like her husband,
connected herself in middle life with the Congregationalists. She
communicated of her own religious conviction to her children; it is
said that she handed down also a nervous organization.

Of these parents Robert Browning was born in the parish of St. Giles,
Camberwell, London, May 7, 1812. He was the oldest of the small family,
having two sisters, one, Clara, who died in childhood, and Sarianna,
two years younger than himself, who outlived him. The country in which
he was born and where he spent his childhood has been delightfully
described by his great contemporary, Ruskin, whose Herne Hill was in
the immediate neighborhood. Camberwell at that time was a suburb of
London, with rural spaces and near access to the open country, though
the stony foot of the metropolis was already stepping outward upon the
pleasant lanes and fields. There was room for gardening and the keeping
of pets, while the country gave opportunity for forays into nature's
fastnesses. The boy kept owls and monkeys, magpies and hedgehogs, an
eagle, snakes even, and was touched with the collector's pride, as when
he started a collection of rare creatures with a couple of lady-birds
brought home one winter day and placed in a box lined with cotton
wool and labelled, "Animals found surviving in the depths of a severe
winter." It is easy for a reader of his poems to detect the close,
sympathetic observation which he disclosed for all lower life.

Indeed the characteristics of his mind as seen in his writings
afterward were readily disclosed in the evidence which remains to us
of his boyhood. He was insatiably curious and he was imaginatively
dramatic, and he had from the first the sane and generous aid of
his parents in both these particulars. His father was passionately
fond of children, and gave his own that best of gifts, appreciative
companionship. "He was fond," says Mr. Sharp in his _Life of Browning_,
"of taking the little Robert in his arms and walking to and fro with
him in the dusk in 'the library,' soothing the child to sleep by
singing to him snatches of Anacreon in the original to a favorite old
tune of his, 'A Cottage in a Wood;'" and again the same biographer
says: "One of his own [Robert's] recollections was that of sitting
on his father's knees in the library, and listening with enthralled
attention to the Tale of Troy, with marvellous illustrations among the
glowing coals in the fireplace; with, below all, the vaguely heard
accompaniment--from the neighboring room, where Mrs. Browning sat 'in
her chief happiness, her hour of darkness and solitude and music'--of a
wild Gaelic lament, with its insistent falling cadences."

The boy had an indifferent experience of formal schooling in his youth.
The more fertilizing influence of his intellectual taste was found in
his father's books. As has been said, his father had an intelligent
and cultivated love of books, and eagerly shared his knowledge and his
treasures with his boy. A seventeenth century edition of Quarles's
_Emblems_, the first edition of _Robinson Crusoe_, an early edition
of Milton, bought for him by his father, old Bibles, a wide range of
Elizabethan literature--these were pastures in which the boy browsed.
Besides, he knew the eighteenth century writers, Walpole, Junius, and
even Voltaire being included by the catholic minded father. The special
acquaintance with Greek came later, but Latin he began early.

His attendance at school ceased when he was fourteen, then came four
years of private tutors, and at eighteen he was matriculated at London
University, where he spent two years. In this period of private and
public tuition, his scope was widening with systematic intent. He
learned dancing, riding, boxing and fencing. He became versed in
French. He visited galleries, and made some progress in drawing,
especially from casts. He studied music with able teachers. He had a
strong interest in the stage, and displayed on occasions a good deal of
histrionic ability himself.

It is said that in this growing, restless period, when indeed he
had the wilfulness and aggressiveness of the young man who has the
consciousness of inner power, but not yet the mastery either of art or
of himself, it was an open question with him whether he should be poet,
painter, sculptor or musician; an artist at any rate he knew he must
be. To that all his being moved, and in his youth he manifested that
temperament, by alternation dreamy and dramatic, which under favoring
conditions is the background from which artistic possibilities are
projected. From the vantage ground of a wooded spot near his home he
could look out on the distant city lying on the western horizon, and
fretting the evening sky with its spires and towers and ragged lines.
The sight for him had a great fascination. Here would he lie for hours,
looking and dreaming, and he has told how one night of his boyhood he
stole out to these elms and saw the great city glimmering through the
darkness. After all, the vision was more to him than that which brought
woods and fields beneath his ken. It was the world of men and women,
toward which his gaze was directed all his life.

In Browning's case, as in that of more than one recent poet, it is
possible to see a very distinct passing of the torch into his hand from
that of a great predecessor. He had versified from childhood. He would
scarcely have been his father's child had he not. His sister remembers
that when he was a very little child he would walk round and round the
dining-room table, spanning the table with his palm as he marked off
the scansion of the verses he had composed. Even before this rhyme had
been put into his hands as an instrument, for his father had taught him
words by their rhymes, and aided his memorizing of Latin declensions
in the same way. So the boy lisped in numbers, for the numbers came,
and by the time he was twelve had accumulated a formidable amount of
matter, chiefly Byronic in manner. With the confidence of the very
youthful poet, he tried to find a publisher who would venture on the
issue. He could not find one who would put his verses into print, but
he found one of another sort in his mother, who read them with pride
and showed them to her friends. Thus they fell into the hands of Miss
Flower, who showed them to her sister, Sarah Flower Adams, whose name
is firmly held in hymnologies, and with her appreciation showed them
also to the Rev. William Johnson Fox, who as preacher, editor, and man
of letters had a tolerably distinct position which has not yet been
forgotten. Mr. Fox read and was emphatic in his recognition of promise,
but with good sense advised against any attempt to get the book into
print. Book it was in manuscript, and this was the publication it
received. Like other first ventures, its audience was fit though few,
and as will be seen later, Browning gained the best thing that first
ventures are likely to bring, a generous critic.

But shortly after this came the real fructifying of the poetic germ
which lay in this youthful nature. "Passing a bookstall one day,"
says Mr. Sharp, "he saw, in a box of second-hand volumes, a little
book advertised as 'Mr. Shelley's Atheistical Poem: very scarce.' He
had never heard of Shelley, nor did he learn for a long time that the
_Dæmon of the World_ and the miscellaneous poems appended thereto
constituted a literary piracy. Badly printed, shamefully mutilated,
these discarded blossoms touched him to a new emotion. Pope became
further removed than ever: Byron, even, lost his magnetic supremacy.
From vague remarks in reply to his inquiries, and from one or two
casual allusions, he learned that there really was a poet called
Shelley; that he had written several volumes; that, he was dead." His
mother set herself to search for more of Shelley for her son, and after
recourse to Mr. Fox, made her way to the Olliers in Vere Street, and
brought back not only a collection of Shelley's volumes, but of Keats's
also, and thus these two poets fell into Browning's hands.

It was on a May night, Browning told a friend, he entered upon this
hitherto unknown world. In a laburnum near by, and in a great copper
beech not far away, two nightingales sang together. So he sat and
listened to them, and read by turns from these two poets. It was his
initiation into the same society. He did not at once join them, but
when he made his first appearance in public, at the age of twenty, it
was with a poem, _Pauline_, which not only held a glowing apostrophe
to Shelley but was throughout colored by his ardent devotion to the
poet. Twenty years later he wrote a prose _apologia_ for Shelley in
the form of an introduction to a collection of letters purporting to
come from Shelley, but which were discovered to be spurious immediately
upon publication. Both _Pauline_ and an _Essay on Percy Bysshe Shelley_
will be found in this volume, with introductions explaining the
circumstances of publication, but the reader of Browning's poetry is
likely to carry longest in his mind the short lyric _Memorabilia_,

    "Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,"

in which as in a parable one may read how the sudden acquaintance with
this poet was to Browning the one memorable moment in his period of
youthful dreaming.

The publication anonymously of _Pauline_, in January, 1833, was
followed by a period of travel. He went to Russia nominally as
secretary to the Russian consul-general, and became so enamored of
diplomatic life that he essayed to enter it, but failed; so strong a
hold did it take on him that he would have been glad in later life if
his son had chosen this career.

The life of a poet who is not also a man of action is told mainly
in the succession of his writings. Two or three sonnets followed
_Pauline_, but the first poem to which Browning attached his name was
_Paracelsus_, the dedication to which is dated March 15, 1835. The
dedication--and the succession of these graceful compliments discloses
many of Browning's friendships--was to Count de Ripert-Monclar, a young
French royalist, who was a private agent of the royal family, and had
become intimate with the poet, who was four years his junior. The count
suggested the life of Paracelsus to his friend as a subject for a poem,
but on second thought advised against it as offering insufficient
materials for the treatment of love. A young poet, however, who would
prefix a quotation from Cornelius Agrippa to his first publication was
one easily to be enticed by such a subject, and Browning fell upon
the literature relating to Paracelsus which he found in the British
Museum, and quickly mastered the facts, which became fused by his
ardent imagination and eager speculation into a consistent whole. But
though he sought his material among hooks, as he needs must, he found
his constructive power in the silence of nature in the night. He had
a great love for walking in the dark. "There was in particular," says
Mr. Sharp, "a wood near Dulwich, whither he was wont to go. There he
would walk swiftly and eagerly along the solitary and lightless byways,
finding a potent stimulus to imaginative thought in the happy isolation
thus enjoyed.... At this time, too, he composed much in the open air.
This he rarely, if ever, did in later life. Not only many portions of
_Paracelsus_ but several scenes in _Strafford_ were enacted first in
these midnight silences of the Dulwich woodland. Here, too, as the poet
once declared, he came to know the serene beauty of dawn: for every
now and again, after having read late, or written long, he would steal
quietly from the house, and walk till the morning twilight graded to
the pearl and amber of the new day."

Poetry, it may be, more than any other form of literature, clears the
way for friendship. At any rate, _Paracelsus_ introduced Browning to
John Forster, and it was at this time also that Dickens, Talfourd and
Macready, Leigh Hunt, Barry Cornwall, Wordsworth and Landor were more
than names to the young poet. There was doubtless something in the
man as well as in his work which won him recognition. Macready says
he looked more the poet than any man he had ever met. His head was
crowned with wavy dark brown hair. He had singularly expressive eyes, a
sensitive, mobile mouth, a musical voice, and an alertness of manner,
so that he was like a quivering, high bred animal. How marked he was
by his companions, and singled out to be, as Macready says, "a leading
spirit of his time," is instanced by a notable occurrence at Talfourd's
house after the first performance of _Ion_, when Talfourd included
Browning with Wordsworth and Landor, who were present, in a toast to
the poets of England.

It was on this occasion that Macready, whom Browning already knew well,
proposed to the poet that he should write him a play as narrated in the
Introduction to _Strafford_. The play was produced at the Covent Garden
Theatre in May, 1837, and Macready and Miss Helen Faucit, afterward
Lady Martin, gave distinction to its representation. It came, however,
at an unfortunate time in the management, and though it gave promise
of a long run, certain difficulties in the theatre compelled its
withdrawal. It was published at once by Longmans, but like Browning's
former book, was a failure with the public.

The monologue of _Pauline_ had been succeeded by what may be called
the conversational drama of _Paracelsus_, and that by the dramatic
_Strafford_. The form now experimented with was to be the dominant one
for the next ten years, though his next attempt was in form almost a
reversion to _Pauline_. During the remainder of 1837 and until Easter,
1838, Browning was engaged on _Sordello_, but interrupted this poem
for a couple of years which have a special interest as the years
when he first visited Italy, and when he entered upon an order of
production which was to be very significant of his poetic choice of
subject and treatment. Browning himself recognized the importance to
him of his acquaintance with Italy. "It was my university," he was wont
to say, when asked if he had been a student at Oxford or Cambridge.
The companion poems, _The Englishman in Italy_ and _The Italian in
England_, illustrate that double nationality in Browning's mind by
which the two countries were, so to speak, married for him. The latter
of these two poems was one which Mazzini used to read to his countrymen
when he would demonstrate how generously an Englishman could enter into
the Italian's patriotic aspirations. The journey was a rapid one. "I
went," Browning says, "to Trieste, then Venice--then through Treviso
and Bassano to the mountains, delicious Asolo, all my places and
castles, you will see. Then to Vicenza, Padua, and Venice again. Then
to Verona, Trent, Innspruck, Munich, Salzburg in Franconia, Frankfort
and Mayence; down the Rhine to Cologne, then to Aix-la-Chapelle, Siège
and Antwerp; then home."

It would seem as if he had begun _Sordello_ with a bookish knowledge
only of Italy, and later charged it with a more informing spirit of
love for that country and embroidered it with descriptive scenes drawn
from his personal observation. The poem was published in 1840, but
the result of the journey in Italy and of the poet's more complete
finding of himself--a process by the bye which may almost be taken
as having its analogue in _Sordello_--were made most evident by the
next publication, the story of which is told in the Introduction to
_Pippa Passes_. The very form chosen for _Bells and Pomegranates_ was
a challenge to the public not so fantastically arrogant as Horne's
famous publication of _Orion_ at a farthing, but noticeable as an
earnest of Browning's appeal to his generation and not to a select
circle of admiring friends. In this series of writings, extending from
1841 through 1846, Browning struck the note again and again, in drama,
lyric, and romance, which was to be the dominant note of his poetry,
that disclosure of the soul of man in all manner of circumstances,
as if the world were to the poet a great laboratory of souls, and he
was forever to be engaged in solving, dissolving, and resolving the

It is noticeable also that with this series closed Browning's serious
attempts at dramatic composition for the stage. It would almost seem as
if he finally parted company with theatrical managers, partly because
of the constant difficulty he had in making them subordinate to his
purpose, partly and no doubt more profoundly because his own genius,
bent as it was upon the interpretation of spiritual phenomena, could
ill brook the demands of the acted drama that all this interpretation
should stop with visible, intelligible, and satisfactory action,
capable of histrionic expression. Browning's eager penetration of the
arcana of life was too absorbing to permit him to call a halt when the
actor on the stage could go no farther.

An example of the practical difficulties he encountered with managers
will be found in the vicissitudes of _A Blot in the 'Scutcheon_, which
was put on the stage in 1843 and formed the fifth in the series of
_Bells and Pomegranates_. Browning has himself told the story of his
misfortunes so fully and so graphically in a letter to Mr. Frank Hill,
editor of the _London Daily News_, forty years after the event, that
it seems worth while to introduce it here. The letter, from which the
following passage is taken, was dated 19, Warwick Crescent, December
15, 1884; and was written in consequence of a paragraph concerning the
revival of the play, which Mr. Hill had sent in proof to Browning, from
a doubt he felt of its accuracy:--

"Macready received and accepted the play, while he was engaged at the
Haymarket, and retained it for Drury Lane, of which I was ignorant
that he was about to become the manager; he accepted it 'at the
instigation' of nobody,--and Charles Dickens was not in England when
he did so: it was read to him after his return by Forster--and the
glowing letter which contains his opinion of it, although directed
by him to be shown to myself, was never heard of nor seen by me till
printed in Forster's book some thirty years after. When the Drury
Lane season began, Macready informed me that he should act the play
when he had brought out two others--_The Patrician's Daughter_, and
_Plighted Troth_. Having done so, he wrote to me that the former had
been unsuccessful in money-drawing, and the latter had 'smashed his
arrangements altogether,' but he would still produce my play. I had--in
my ignorance of certain symptoms better understood by Macready's
professional acquaintances--no notion that it was a proper thing, in
such a case, to 'release him from his promise;' on the contrary, I
should have fancied that such a proposal was offensive. Soon after,
Macready begged that I would call on him; he said the play had been
read to the actors the day before, and 'laughed at from beginning to
end;' on my speaking my mind about this, he explained that the reading
had been done by the prompter, a grotesque person with a red nose and
wooden leg, ill at ease in the love scenes, and that he would himself
make amends by reading the play next morning--which he did, and very
adequately--but apprised me that, in consequence of the state of his
mind, harassed by business and various trouble, the principal character
must be taken by Mr. Phelps; and again I failed to understand--what
Forster subsequently assured me was plain as the sun at noonday--that
to allow at Macready's theatre any other than Macready to play the
principal part in a new piece was suicidal,--and really believed I was
meeting his exigencies by accepting the substitution. At the rehearsal,
Macready announced that Mr. Phelps was ill, and that he himself would
read the part; on the third rehearsal, Mr. Phelps appeared for the
first time, and sat in a chair while Macready more than read--rehearsed
the part. The next morning Mr. Phelps waylaid me at the stage-floor to
say, with much emotion, that it never was intended that _he_ should be
instrumental in the success of a new tragedy, and that Macready would
play Tresham on the ground that himself, Phelps, was unable to do so.
He added that he could not expect me to waive such an advantage, but
that, if I were prepared to waive it, 'he would take ether, sit up all
night, and have the words in his memory by next day.' I bade him follow
me to the green-room, and hear what I decided upon--which was that
as Macready had given him the part, he should keep it: this was on a
Thursday; he rehearsed on Friday and Saturday,--the play being acted
the same evening,--_of the fifth day after the 'reading' by Macready_.
Macready at once wished to reduce the importance of the 'play'--as he
styled it in the bills,--tried to leave out so much of the text that I
baffled him by getting it printed in four-and-twenty hours, by Moxon's
assistance. He wanted me to call it _The Sister!_ and I have before
me, while I write, the stage-acting copy, with two lines of his own
insertion to avoid the tragical ending--Tresham was to announce his
intention of going into a monastery! all this, to keep up the belief
that Macready, and Macready alone, could produce a veritable 'tragedy,'
unproduced before. Not a shilling was spent on scenery or dresses, and
a striking scene which had been used for _The Patrician's Daughter_
did duty a second time. If your critic considers this treatment of the
play an instance of 'the failure of powerful and experienced actors' to
ensure its success, I can only say that my own opinion was shown by at
once breaking off a friendship of many years--a friendship which had
a right to be plainly and simply told that the play I had contributed
as a proof of it would, through a change of circumstances, no longer
be to my friend's advantage--all I could possibly care for. Only
recently, when by the publication of Macready's journals the extent
of his pecuniary embarrassments at that time was made known, could I
in a measure understand his motives for such conduct, and less than
ever understand why he so strangely disguised and disfigured them.
If 'applause' meant success, the play thus maimed and maltreated was
successful enough; it 'made way' for Macready's own Benefit, and the
theatre closed a fortnight after."

Of the more profound separation between Browning and the theatre, due
to the inherent impossibility of his arresting his thought before it
got beyond the actor's use, _Luria_ and _The Return of the Druses_
afford good examples, and an illustration might fairly be taken from
_Colombe's Birthday_, which was put on the stage in 1853, but scarcely
held its own, though Helen Faucit took the heroine's part, and, when
revived forty years after, was so cut and slashed that though the
splendid idea of Valence was retained in situation, the delicate,
subtle shadows which passed and repassed before the reader's mind were

The period when Browning was writing his dramas was one of spendthrift
enjoyment of life. For it was a time not only of work in the British
Museum and of excursions into all sorts of remote fields of literature,
but of long rambles, half gypsy experiences, hours when, stretched at
full length beneath the sky, he made familiar and minute acquaintance
with bird and leaf, insect and snail, the wind in the trees, the search
for the northwest passage of argosies of clouds. He pursued all manner
of interests which absorbed him for the moment; he was living, in
short, that abundant life which was reflected later in multitudinous
dramatic assumptions.

Then all at once there came a concentration of his passion and a sudden
revelation to him which never lost its wondrous light. Elizabeth
Barrett and Robert Browning, knowing each other through their writings,
then by a common service to a common friend, then by an intermittent
correspondence, finally were brought together by John Kenyon, already
a dear friend of each. The fragile creature, scarce able to leave her
couch, and the robust, exuberantly vital man, were as far separate in
external, superficial agreement as could well be, but each knew the
other with an instantaneousness of knowledge and need. Again and again,
not only in verses directed openly to his wife, but in those which
like _By the Fireside_ thinly veil personal feeling, the passionate
constancy of this experimenting, daringly inquisitive poet towards
his poet wife is splendidly disclosed, with a certain glory of frank
confession which is the vehement sincerity of one who is in this one
feeling genuine poet and genuine man.

Miss Barrett was an invalid, guarded with the greatest care, and
Browning, in urging marriage upon her, met with all the obstacles
which the circumstances raised. He confronted indeed the indomitable
refusal of Miss Barrett's father. A physician had held out hopes that a
removal to Italy would give the invalid a chance to regain some degree
of health, but Mr. Barrett, for some not very clear reason, refused
his consent to her taking the journey with her brother. It was then
that Browning, who can readily be conceived of as a masterful man, won
Miss Barrett's consent to a sudden and clandestine marriage, and a
journey to Italy as his wife. "When she had finally assented to this
course," writes Mrs. Orr, "she took a preparatory step which, in so
far as it was known, must itself have been sufficiently startling to
those about her; she drove to Regent's Park, and when there, stepped
out of the carriage and on to the grass. I do not know how long she
stood--probably only for a moment; but I well remember hearing that
when, after so long an interval, she felt earth under her feet and air
about her, the sensation was almost bewilderingly strange."

They were married September 12, 1846. She would not entangle Mr. Kenyon
or any of her friends by announcing even her engagement; she preferred
marrying without her father's knowledge, to marrying against his
prohibition. For a week the husband and wife did not see each other.
Then they met by agreement and went to Paris. Mr. Barrett never forgave
his daughter, but the consternation with which the Browning family
heard of the event quickly turned to affectionate regard for the frail
wife. So far as Mrs. Browning's physical well-being was concerned,
it is clear that the marriage gave her a new lease of life; and what
seemed at the moment an audacious taking of fate into their own hands
proved to be a case where nature obtained her best of both.

From Paris, by slow stages, they passed through France into Italy, and
made their first long halt in Pisa. It was here, we are told, that
Mrs. Browning showed to her husband in manuscript those _Sonnets from
the Portuguese_ which were her offering to him out of the darkness of
her chamber. From Pisa they went to Florence, to Ancona, and again
back to Florence, where at last they obtained a foothold in the old
palace called Casa Guidi, a name to be endeared to the readers of Mrs.
Browning's poetry. Mr. George S. Hillard, in his _Six Months in Italy_,
gives a pleasant account of the Brownings when he met them in Florence
in 1847.

"It is well for the traveller to be chary of names. It is an ungrateful
return for hospitable attentions to print the conversation of your
host, or describe his person, or give an inventory of his furniture, or
proclaim how his wife and daughters were dressed. But I trust I may be
pardoned if I state that one of my most delightful associations with
Florence arises from the fact that here I made the acquaintance of
Robert and Elizabeth Browning. These are even more familiar names in
America than in England, and their poetry is probably more read, and
better understood with us than among their own countrymen. A happier
home and a more perfect union than theirs it is not easy to imagine;
and this completeness arises not only from the rare qualities which
each possesses, but from their adaptation to each other. Browning's
conversation is like the poetry of Chaucer, or like his own, simplified
and made transparent. His countenance is so full of vigor, freshness,
and refined power, that it seems impossible to think that he can ever
grow old. His poetry is subtle, passionate, and profound; but he
himself is simple, natural, and playful. He has the repose of a man
who has lived much in the open air; with no nervous uneasiness and no
unhealthy self-consciousness. Mrs. Browning is in many respects the
correlative of her husband. As he is full of manly power, so she is a
type of the most sensitive and delicate womanhood. She has been a great
sufferer from ill-health, and the marks of pain are stamped upon her
person and manner. Her figure is slight, her countenance expressive
of genius and sensibility, shaded by a veil of long brown locks; and
her tremulous voice often flutters over her words, like the flame of
a dying candle over the wick. I have never seen a human frame which
seemed so nearly a transparent veil for a celestial and immortal
spirit. She is a soul of fire enclosed in a shell of pearl. Her rare
and fine genius needs no setting forth at my hands. She is also, what
is not so generally known, a woman of uncommon, nay, profound learning,
even measured by a masculine standard. Nor is she more remarkable for
genius and learning, than for sweetness of temper, tenderness of heart,
depth of feeling, and purity of spirit. It is a privilege to know such
beings singly and separately, but to see their powers quickened, and
their happiness rounded, by the sacred tie of marriage, is a cause for
peculiar and lasting gratitude. A union so complete as theirs--in which
the mind has nothing to crave nor the heart to sigh for--is cordial to
behold and something to remember."

During the fifteen years of their married life the Brownings lived
for the most part in Italy, with occasional summers in England and
long sojourns in Paris. The record of Browning's productions during
this period is meagre, if one regards the fulness of his poetic
activity both before and after. The explanation is made that these
new responsibilities,--for two sons were born to them, one of whom
died,--carried also great anxieties, for the frailty of Mrs. Browning's
health was a constant factor in the movements of the household. But
though the record is meagre as to quantity, lovers of Browning's
poetry would be likely to regard this as not only a central period,
chronologically, but the period when he reached his highest expression.
The first collected edition of his poems appeared in 1849, to be
followed the next year by _Christmas-Eve_ and _Easter-Day_, and then,
five years after that, in 1855, by _Men and Women_, a group of poems
which still remains the flower of Browning's genius.

The great range taken by these poems is a witness to the fecundity and
versatility of Browning's genius. It is possible, also, that to the
circumstances of his life, especially its beautiful distractions, we
owe the fact of a multitude of short poems rather than longer-sustained
efforts. While Mrs. Browning, sheltered by the constant care exerted by
her husband and stimulated by his companionship, composed her longest
work, _Aurora Leigh_, he, never long freed from anxious thought,
broke into more fragmentary production. A very good illustration of
the alacrity of his mind and the instantaneous power of seizing upon
opportunity is given in a passage in Mr. Gosse's _Personalia:_--

"In recounting a story of some Tuscan noblemen who had shown him two
exquisite miniature-paintings, the work of a young artist who should
have received for them the prize in some local contest, and who,
being unjustly defrauded, broke his ivories, burned his brushes, and
indignantly foreswore the thankless art forever, Mr. Browning suddenly
reflected that there was, as he said, 'stuff for a poem' in that
story, and immediately with extreme vivacity began to sketch the form
it should take, the suppression of what features and the substitution
of what others were needful; and finally suggested the non-obvious or
inverted moral of the whole, in which the act of spirited defiance was
shown to be, really, an act of tame renunciation, the poverty of the
artist's spirit being proved in his eagerness to snatch, even though
it was by honest merit, a benefit simply material. The poet said,
distinctly, that he had never before reflected on this incident as one
proper to be versified; the speed, therefore, with which the creative
architect laid the foundations, built the main fabric, and even put
on the domes and pinnacles of his poem was, no doubt, of uncommon
interest. He left it, in five minutes, needing nothing but the mere
outward crust of the versification."

It was an incident in Browning's life that when he was producing
his most glorious work and receiving the admiration and intelligent
appreciation of his poetical wife, he was a very insignificant figure
in English literature of the day. Mrs. Browning was indignant over
the neglect her husband suffered, and in her letters drew sharp
comparison between the attention paid Browning in America and the
neglect he received in England. Meanwhile, whether living in Florence
or sojourning in Paris or London, a choice company was always to
be found welcoming and honoring the two poets. Mr. and Mrs. Story,
the Hawthornes, Cardinal Manning, Massimo d'Azeglio, Sir Frederick
Leighton, Mr. Odo Russell, Rossetti, Val Prinsep, Forster, Landor,
Fanny Kemble,--these are some of the names closely associated with that
of the Brownings in this period.

The death of Mrs. Browning, June 29, 1861, closed this most beautiful
human companionship. It made also a great change in Browning's
habit of life, and no doubt affected in important ways his poetical
productiveness. He left Italy for England. He became absorbed, so far
as personal responsibilities went, in the education of his son. By some
strange caprice, he chose to make his home in an ugly part of London,
and he approached it through a region of disorder and squalor. But he
also, with his robust nature, denied himself the luxury of a persistent
solitariness, and little by little returned to society, especially
grateful for the friendship of women like Miss Isa Blagden, who stepped
in at the moment of his descent into the valley of grief with their
gentle ministrations.

The months that followed Mrs. Browning's death were in a way given
to taking up again dropped threads of work, and to intellectual
occupations, which both satisfied and stimulated his nature. He read
Euripides again, perhaps in part because of the association in his mind
with his wife's scholarly interests. He resumed the poems on which he
had been engaged in the last months at Casa Guidi, and he pondered
over his _magnum opus_, the germ of which had been in his mind for
many months. But first, in 1863, he saw through the press a new and
complete collection of his poetical works in three volumes. Then, the
year following, he gathered the poems which immediately preceded and
followed Mrs. Browning's death into the volume of _Dramatis Personæ_.
The reissue of his older poems and this new accession were accompanied
by a clear re-enforcement of his position as an English poet. He had
come, too, to the point where volumes of selections from his work were
in demand, a pretty good sign of a widening of his audience. Other
signs followed. In 1867 he received the honorary degree of M. A. from
the University of Oxford, and a few months later was made honorary
fellow of Balliol College. In the year following he was asked to stand
for the Lord Rectorship of the University of St. Andrews, rendered
vacant by the death of J. S. Mill.

His mother had died in 1849, and in 1866 his father, who had been one
of his most constant companions since his wife's death, died also.
Thereafter, he and his sister Sarianna, who had passed a life of
devotion to their parents, became inseparable. Though England was their
home, they spent many summers in Brittany, as his poems indicate, and
now and then returned to Italy, where his son was established finally
as a painter.

In 1868 appeared the six volume uniform edition of his poems, and
immediately afterward began the publication, to be completed in four
volumes, of _The Ring and the Book_. Mrs. Orr traces, in an ingenious
manner, the influence which Mrs. Browning's personality had in the
conception of Pompilia in this poem. However much a single character
may have been affected, it is easy to believe that this elaborate
construction building in Browning's mind during the closing years
of his wife's life and actually brought into existence in the years
immediately following was, more than any single work, a great monument
which the poet raised to the memory of that companion whose own poetic
achievement always seemed to him of a higher worth than his own. "The
simple truth is," he wrote to a common friend, "that _she_ was the poet
and I the clever person by comparison: remember her limited experience
of all kinds, and what she made of it. Remember, on the other hand, how
my uninterrupted health and strength and practice with the world have
helped me."

After _The Ring and the Book_ the only new departure, so to speak,
of Browning's genius was in the group of poems which were built
upon the foundation of Greek poetry. In 1871 appeared _Balaustion's
Adventure_, in 1875 _Aristophanes' Apology_, and in 1877 _The Agamemnon
of Æschylus_. They have their value as expressive of Browning's
catholicity, and more particularly as his one great literary feat. With
all his interest in Italy, and his delving in Renaissance literature,
there can scarcely be said to be any criticism of Italian literature in
the form of his own poetry. In like manner his dramatic works are not,
except in a very remote or general sense, criticism of the Elizabethan
drama. But his three poems above named do represent the thought and
criticism of a Gothic mind confronting and admiring the Greek art
and thought. Browning in these works is not a reproducer in his own
terms of Greek life; he is a poet of varied experience, who, coming in
contact with a great and distinct manifestation of human life, is moved
to strike in here also with his thought and fancy, and because of the
very elemental nature of the material, to find the keenest delight in
exercising his genius upon it.

Meanwhile the facility which his long and varied practice with the
English language had brought him made every new subject that appealed
to him a plaything for his fertile imagination; and the speculative
temper which grew upon him as the maturity of experience enlarged and
enriched his material for thought, led him into long and tortuous
ways. _The Ring and the Book_ stands about midway in the bulk of his
work, but whereas all the poetry and drama before that work represent
thirty-five years of his life, that which follows, nearly as great in
amount, represents but twenty years.

In these last years of his life, when fame had come to him and his
versatility made him a ready companion, he led a semi-public life. He
was in demand in all directions. As Mr. Sharp has rapidly summed it
up: "Everybody wished him to come and dine; and he did his utmost to
gratify everybody. He said everything; read all the notable books;
kept himself acquainted with the leading contents of the journals and
magazines; conducted a large correspondence; read new French, German,
and Italian books of mark; read and translated Euripides and Æschylus;
knew all the gossip of the literary clubs, salons, and the studios; was
a frequenter of afternoon-tea parties; and then, over and above it, he
was Browning: the most profoundly subtle mind that has exercised itself
in poetry since Shakespeare."

In 1881 was founded the English Browning Society, one of the most
singular testimonials to the interest awakened by a contemporaneous
poet known in literary history. The great mass of his writings, the
recondite nature of some of the material which he had used, but
more than all, the astounding variety of problems in human life and
character which he had presented and either solved or opened the way to
solve, made Browning an object of the greatest interest to the curious,
the sympathetic, and the restless of his day. Any such movement has on
its edge a frayed sort of membership, but no one can note the names
of members or read the communications which appear in the society's
proceedings without recognizing the intellectual ability that carried
the movement along. Browning's own attitude toward the society is
pretty clearly expressed in the following words which he wrote to Mr.
Edmund Yates at the time of the society's foundation:--

"The Browning Society, I need not say, as well as Browning himself,
are fair game for criticism. I had no more to do with the founding
it than the babe unborn; and, as Wilkes was no Wilkesite, I am quite
other than a Browningite. But I cannot wish harm to a society of,
with a few exceptions, names unknown to me, who are busied about my
books so disinterestedly. The exaggerations probably come of the
fifty-years'-long charge of unintelligibility against my books; such
reactions are possible, though I never looked for the beginning of
one so soon. That there is a grotesque side to the thing is certain;
but I have been surprised and touched by what cannot but have been
well intentioned, I think. Anyhow, as I never felt inconvenienced by
hard words, you will not expect me to wax bumptious because of undue
compliment: so enough of 'Browning'--except that he is yours very truly
'while the machine is to him.'"

In 1887 Browning removed to a more agreeable quarter in De Vere Gardens
in the west end of London, and with his affection for Asolo, he set
about purchasing a residence there in 1889, and it was while engaged
in negotiations for the purchase that he was taken ill with bronchial
troubles, and died at his son's home in Venice, December 12, 1889. He
was buried in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, on the last day of
the year. Italy rightly divided honors with England, and on the outer
wall of the Rezzonico Palace in Venice is a memorial tablet with the

    morto in questo palazzo
      il _12 Dicembre 1889_

Below, in the corner, are placed two lines from his poem, _De

    "Open my heart and you will see
    Graved inside of it, 'Italy.'"
                                            H. E. S.


[Footnote 1: The materials for this sketch are drawn from Mrs.
Sutherland Orr's _Life and Letters of Robert Browning_, Mr. William
Sharp's _Life of Robert Browning_, and Mr. Edmund Gosse's _Robert
Browning: Personalia_.]


    The history of the earliest printed of Browning's writings is so
    curious that it seems worth while to give it at greater length
    than its intrinsic merit would require. As a boy Browning wrote an
    inordinate amount of verse, imitative largely of Byron, and some of
    it written when he was twelve struck his father as good enough to
    deserve printing, but no publisher could be found ready to confirm
    this faith. Then Browning fell into a Shelleyan mood, and when he
    was twenty projected a great work of which the introduction only
    was written. This introduction was _Pauline_, which to be precise
    was completed October 22, 1832. Browning's aunt volunteered to
    pay the expenses of publication, and it was published anonymously
    early in 1833 by Saunders & Otley. The most authoritative person
    on literary matters in the young poet's circle of friends was the
    Rev. William Johnson Fox, a Unitarian clergyman and editor of the
    _Monthly Repository_. He had a few years before given emphatic
    commendation to the boy's verse, and now reviewed the poem with
    great warmth in his own magazine, so winning the poet's gratitude
    as to draw from him the extravagant expression: "I shall never
    write a line without thinking of the source of my first praise,
    be assured." The poem missed what would have been from its writer
    a more notable review. Mr. John Stuart Mill, six years Browning's
    senior, was so delighted with _Pauline_ that he wrote to the editor
    of _Tait's Magazine_, the only periodical in which he could write
    freely, asking leave to review the poem. The editor replied that he
    had just printed a curt, contemptuous notice, and could not at once
    take the other track. When Mill died his copy of _Pauline_, crowded
    with annotations, fell into Browning's hands and may now be seen in
    the South Kensington Museum.

    In spite of such hopeful promise the poem was still-born from
    the press. Five years later, Browning wrote in a copy "the only
    remaining crab of the shapely Tree of Life in my Fool's Paradise."
    He appears never to have spoken of it until a striking circumstance
    brought it again into light. Many years after it was printed Dante
    Gabriel Rossetti was browsing among the volumes of forgotten poetry
    in the British Museum. He came upon a book in which a number of
    pamphlet poems were bound in a heterogeneous collection. Among
    these was _Pauline_. He read it, and from its internal evidence was
    convinced that it was an unacknowledged poem of Browning's. The
    book was wholly out of print, and he made a copy of it. He wrote
    to Browning afterwards taxing the poet with the production, and
    Browning, greatly surprised at Rossetti's discovery, acknowledged
    the authorship. In 1865, the editor of this Cambridge edition,
    meeting Rossetti in London, mentioned the fact that he had been
    copying at the British Museum Browning's prose introduction to the
    suppressed spurious collection of Shelley's Letters, whereupon
    Rossetti told him of this other rare book. Afterwards on learning
    that he had copied _Pauline_ also he said: "I suppose you will
    print it when you go back to America." "By no means," replied the
    editor; "that would be a breach of faith. I copied it as a student
    of Browning. I never would make it public without Browning's
    consent." A year or two later therefore when a new edition of the
    collected poems was published, he thought himself not unlikely
    the unwitting occasion of the inclusion of _Pauline_, for in the
    introduction Browning wrote as follows:

    "The first piece in the series (_Pauline_), I acknowledge and
    retain with extreme repugnance, indeed purely of necessity; for
    not long ago I inspected one, and am certified of the existence of
    other transcripts, intended sooner or later to be published abroad:
    by forestalling these, I can at least correct some misprints (no
    syllable is changed) and introduce a boyish work by an exculpatory
    word. The thing was my earliest attempt at "poetry always dramatic
    in principle, and so many utterances of so many imaginary persons,
    not mine," which I have since written according to a scheme less
    extravagant and scale less impracticable than were ventured upon in
    this crude preliminary sketch,--a sketch that, on reviewal, appears
    not altogether wide of some hint of the characteristic features of
    that particular _dramatis persona_ it would fain have reproduced:
    good draughtsmanship, however, and right handling were far beyond
    the artist at that time.

    LONDON, _December 25, 1867_. "R. B."

    Twenty years later, upon sending out his final collective edition,
    Browning added to the preface just quoted the following sentences:--

    "I preserve, in order to supplement it, the foregoing preface.
    I had thought, when compelled to include in my collected works
    the poem to which it refers, that the honest course would be
    to reprint, and leave mere literary errors unaltered. Twenty
    years' endurance of an eyesore seems more than sufficient: my
    faults remain duly recorded against me, and I claim permission
    to somewhat diminish these, so far as style is concerned, in the
    present and final edition, where _Pauline_ must needs, first of my
    performances, confront the reader. I have simply removed solecisms,
    mended the metre a little and endeavored to strengthen the
    phraseology--experience helping, in some degree, the helplessness
    of juvenile haste and heat in their untried adventure long ago."

    LONDON, _February 27, 1888_.

The text here given, as throughout this volume, is that of Mr.
Browning's latest revision. The text of the first revision, i. e. 1867,
may be found at the close of volume i. of the Riverside edition.

The quotations from Marot and Cornelius Agrippa which follow were
prefixed to the original edition of the poem. The note enclosed in
brackets was Browning's comment on reprinting the poem the last time.


    _Plus ne suis ce que j'ai été,
    Et ne le sçaurois jamais être._

Non dubito, quin titulus libri nostri raritate sua quamplurimos
alliciat ad legendum: inter quos nonnulli obliquæ opinionis, mente
languidi, multi etiam maligni, et in ingenium nostrum ingrati accedent,
qui temeraria sua ignorantia, vix conspecto titulo clamabunt. Nos
vetita docere, hæresium semina jacere: piis auribus offendiculo,
præclaris ingeniis scandalo esse: ... adeo conscientiæ suæ consulentes,
ut nec Apollo, nec Musæ omnes, neque Angelus de cœlo me ab illorum
execratione vindicare queant: quibus et ego nunc consulo, ne scripta
nostra legant, nec intelligant, nec meminerint: nam noxia sunt,
venenosa sunt: Acherontis ostium est in hoc libro, lapides loquitur,
caveant, ne cerebrum illis excutiat. Vos autem, qui æqua mente ad
legendum venitis, si tantam prudentiæ discretionem adhibueritis,
quantam in melle legendo apes, jam securi legite. Puto namque vos et
utilitatis haud parum et voluptatis plurimum accepturos. Quod si qua
repereritis, quæ vobis non placeant, mittite illa, nec utimini. NAM
ET EGO VOBIS ILLA NON PROBO, SED NARRO. Cætera tamen propterea non
respuite ... Ideo, si quid liberius dictum sit, ignoscite adolescentiæ
nostræ, qui minor quam adolescens hoc opus composui.--_Hen. Corn.
Agrippa, De Occult. Philosoph. in Præfat._

    LONDON: _January, 1833_.
    V. A. XX.

    [This introduction would appear less absurdly pretentious did it
    apply, as was intended, to a completed structure of which the poem
    was meant for only a beginning and remains a fragment.]

    Pauline, mine own, bend o'er me--thy soft breast
    Shall pant to mine--bend o'er me--thy sweet eyes,
    And loosened hair and breathing lips, and arms
    Drawing me to thee--these build up a screen
    To shut me in with thee, and from all fear;
    So that I might unlock the sleepless brood
    Of fancies from my soul, their lurking-place,
    Nor doubt that each would pass, ne'er to return
    To one so watched, so loved and so secured.
    But what can guard thee but thy naked love?
    Ah dearest, whoso sucks a poisoned wound
    Envenoms his own veins! Thou art so good,
    So calm--if thou shouldst wear a brow less light
    For some wild thought which, but for me, were kept
    From out thy soul as from a sacred star!
    Yet till I have unlocked them it were vain
    To hope to sing; some woe would light on me;
    Nature would point at one whose quivering lip
    Was bathed in her enchantments, whose brow burned
    Beneath the crown to which her secrets knelt,
    Who learned the spell which can call up the dead,
    And then departed smiling like a fiend
    Who has deceived God,--if such one should seek
    Again her altars and stand robed and crowned
    Amid the faithful! Sad confession first,
    Remorse and pardon and old claims renewed,
    Ere I can be--as I shall be no more.
    I had been spared this shame if I had sat
    By thee forever from the first, in place
    Of my wild dreams of beauty and of good,
    Or with them, as an earnest of their truth:
    No thought nor hope having been shut from thee,
    No vague wish unexplained, no wandering aim
    Sent back to bind on fancy's wings and seek
    Some strange fair world where it might be a law;
    But, doubting nothing, had been led by thee,
    Through youth, and saved, as one at length awaked
    Who has slept through a peril. Ah vain, vain!

    Thou lovest me; the past is in its grave
    Though its ghost haunts us; still this much is ours,
    To cast away restraint, lest a worse thing
    Wait for us in the dark. Thou lovest me;
    And thou art to receive not love but faith,
    For which thou wilt be mine, and smile and take
    All shapes and shames, and veil without a fear
    That form which music follows like a slave:
    And I look to thee and I trust in thee,
    As in a Northern night one looks alway
    Unto the East for morn and spring and joy.
    Thou seest then my aimless, hopeless state,
    And, resting on some few old feelings won
    Back by thy beauty, wouldst that I essay
    The task which was to me what now thou art:
    And why should I conceal one weakness more?

    Thou wilt remember one warm morn when winter
    Crept aged from the earth, and spring's first breath
    Blew soft from the moist hills; the black-thorn boughs,
    So dark in the bare wood, when glistening
    In the sunshine were white with coming buds,
    Like the bright side of a sorrow, and the banks
    Had violets opening from sleep like eyes.
    I walked with thee who knew'st not a deep shame
    Lurked beneath smiles and careless words which sought
    To hide it till they wandered and were mute,
    As we stood listening on a sunny mound
    To the wind murmuring in the damp copse,
    Like heavy breathings of some hidden thing
    Betrayed by sleep; until the feeling rushed
    That I was low indeed, yet not so low
    As to endure the calmness of thine eyes.
    And so I told thee all, while the cool breast
    I leaned on altered not its quiet beating:
    And long ere words like a hurt bird's complaint
    Bade me look up and be what I had been,
    I felt despair could never live by thee:
    Thou wilt remember. Thou art not more dear
    Than song was once to me; and I ne'er sung
    But as one entering bright halls where all
    Will rise and shout for him: sure I must own
    That I am fallen, having chosen gifts
    Distinct from theirs--that I am sad and fain
    Would give up all to be but where I was,
    Not high as I had been if faithful found,
    But low and weak yet full of hope, and sure
    Of goodness as of life--that I would lose
    All this gay mastery of mind, to sit
    Once more with them, trusting in truth and love
    And with an aim--not being what I am.

    O Pauline, I am ruined who believed
    That though my soul had floated from its sphere
    Of wild dominion into the dim orb
    Of self--that it was strong and free as ever!
    It has conformed itself to that dim orb,
    Reflecting all its shades and shapes, and now
    Must stay where it alone can be adored.
    I have felt this in dreams--in dreams in which
    I seemed the fate from which I fled; I felt
    A strange delight in causing my decay.
    I was a fiend in darkness chained forever
    Within some ocean-cave; and ages rolled,
    Till through the cleft rock, like a moonbeam, came
    A white swan to remain with me; and ages
    Rolled, yet I tired not of my first free joy
    In gazing on the peace of its pure wings:
    And then I said, "It is most fair to me,
    Yet its soft wings must sure have suffered change
    From the thick darkness, sure its eyes are dim.
    Its silver pinions must be cramped and numbed
    With sleeping ages here; it cannot leave me,
    For it would seem, in light beside its kind,
    Withered, though here to me most beautiful."
    And then I was a young witch whose blue eyes,
    As she stood naked by the river springs,
    Drew down a god: I watched his radiant form
    Growing less radiant, and it gladdened me;
    Till one morn, as he sat in the sunshine
    Upon my knees, singing to me of heaven,
    He turned to look at me, ere I could lose
    The grin with which I viewed his perishing:
    And he shrieked and departed and sat long
    By his deserted throne, but sunk at last
    Murmuring, as I kissed his lips and curled
    Around him, "I am still a god--to thee."

    Still I can lay my soul bare in its fall,
    Since all the wandering and all the weakness
    Will be a saddest comment on the song:
    And if, that done, I can be young again,
    I will give up all gained, as willingly
    As one gives up a charm which shuts him out
    From hope or part or care in human kind.
    As life wanes, all its care and strife and toil
    Seem strangely valueless, while the old trees
    Which grew by our youth's home, the waving mass
    Of climbing plants heavy with bloom and dew,
    The morning swallows with their songs like words,
    All these seem clear and only worth our thoughts:
    So, aught connected with my early life,
    My rude songs or my wild imaginings,
    How I look on them--most distinct amid
    The fever and the stir of after years!

    I ne'er had ventured e'en to hope for this,
    Had not the glow I felt at His award,
    Assured me all was not extinct within:

    His whom all honor, whose renown springs up
    Like sunlight which will visit all the world,
    So that e'en they who sneered at him at first,
    Come out to it, as some dark spider crawls
    From his foul nets which some lit torch invades,
    Yet spinning still new films for his retreat.
    Thou didst smile, poet, but can we forgive?

    Sun-treader, life and light be thine forever!
    Thou art gone from us; years go by and spring
    Gladdens and the young earth is beautiful,
    Yet thy songs come not, other bards arise,
    But none like thee: they stand, thy majesties,
    Like mighty works which tell some spirit there
    Hath sat regardless of neglect and scorn,
    Till, its long task completed, it hath risen
    And left us, never to return, and all
    Rush in to peer and praise when all in vain.
    The air seems bright with thy past presence yet,
    But thou art still for me as thou hast been
    When I have stood with thee as on a throne
    With all thy dim creations gathered round
    Like mountains, and I felt of mould like them,
    And with them creatures of my own were mixed,
    Like things half-lived, catching and giving life.
    But thou art still for me who have adored
    Though single, panting but to hear thy name
    Which I believed a spell to me alone,
    Scarce deeming thou wast as a star to men!
    As one should worship long a sacred spring
    Scarce worth a moth's flitting, which long grasses cross,
    And one small tree embowers droopingly--
    Joying to see some wandering insect won
    To live in its few rushes, or some locust
    To pasture on its boughs, or some wild bird
    Stoop for its freshness from the trackless air:
    And then should find it but the fountain-head,
    Long lost, of some great river washing towns
    And towers, and seeing old woods which will live
    But by its banks untrod of human foot,
    Which, when the great sun sinks, lie quivering
    In light as some thing lieth half of life
    Before God's foot, waiting a wondrous change;
    Then girt with rocks which seek to turn or stay
    Its course in vain, for it does ever spread
    Like a sea's arm as it goes rolling on,
    Being the pulse of some great country--so
    Wast thou to me, and art thou to the world!
    And I, perchance, half feel a strange regret
    That I am not what I have been to thee:
    Like a girl one has silently loved long
    In her first loneliness in some retreat,
    When, late emerged, all gaze and glow to view
    Her fresh eyes and soft hair and lips which bloom
    Like a mountain berry: doubtless it is sweet
    To see her thus adored, but there have been
    Moments when all the world was in our praise,
    Sweeter than any pride of after hours.
    Yet, sun-treader, all hail! From my heart's heart
    I bid thee hail! E'en in my wildest dreams,
    I proudly feel I would have thrown to dust
    The wreaths of fame which seemed o'erhanging me,
    To see thee for a moment as thou art.
    And if thou livest, if thou lovest, spirit!
    Remember me who set this final seal
    To wandering thought--that one so pure as thou
    Could never die. Remember me who flung
    All honor from my soul, yet paused and said,
    "There is one spark of love remaining yet,
    For I have naught in common with him, shapes
    Which followed him avoid me, and foul forms
    Seek me, which ne'er could fasten on his mind;
    And though I feel how low I am to him,
    Yet I aim not even to catch a tone
    Of harmonies he called profusely up;
    So, one gleam still remains, although the last."
    Remember me who praise thee e'en with tears,
    For never more shall I walk calm with thee;
    Thy sweet imaginings are as an air,
    A melody some wondrous singer sings,
    Which, though it haunt men oft in the still eve,
    They dream not to essay; yet it no less
    But more is honored. I was thine in shame,
    And now when all thy proud renown is out,
    I am a watcher whose eyes have grown dim
    With looking for some star which breaks on him
    Altered and worn and weak and full of tears.

    Autumn has come like spring returned to us,
    Won from her girlishness; like one returned
    A friend that was a lover, nor forgets
    The first warm love, but full of sober thoughts
    Of fading years; whose soft mouth quivers yet
    With the old smile, but yet so changed and still!
    And here am I the scoffer, who have probed
    Life's vanity, won by a word again
    Into my own life--by one little word
    Of this sweet friend who lives in loving me,
    Lives strangely on my thoughts and looks and words,
    As fathoms down some nameless ocean thing
    Its silent course of quietness and joy.
    O dearest, if indeed I tell the past,
    May'st thou forget it as a sad sick dream!
    Or if it linger--my lost soul too soon
    Sinks to itself and whispers we shall be
    But closer linked, two creatures whom the earth
    Bears singly, with strange feelings unrevealed
    Save to each other; or two lonely things
    Created by some power whose reign is done,
    Having no part in God or his bright world.
    I am to sing whilst ebbing day dies soft,
    As a lean scholar dies worn o'er his book,
    And in the heaven stars steal out one by one
    As hunted men steal to their mountain watch.
    I must not think, lest this new impulse die
    In which I trust; I have no confidence:
    So, I will sing on fast as fancies come;
    Rudely, the verse being as the mood it paints.

    I strip my mind bare, whose first elements
    I shall unveil--not as they struggle forth
    In infancy, nor as they now exist,
    When I am grown above them and can rule--
    But in that middle stage when they were full
    Yet ere I had disposed them to my will;
    And then I shall show how these elements
    Produced my present state, and what it is.

    I am made up of an intensest life,
    Of a most clear idea of consciousness
    Of self, distinct from all its qualities,
    From all affections, passions, feelings, powers;
    And thus far it exists, if tracked, in all:
    But linked, in me, to self-supremacy,
    Existing as a centre to all things,
    Most potent to create and rule and call
    Upon all things to minister to it;
    And to a principle of restlessness
    Which would be all, have, see, know, taste, feel, all--
    This is myself; and I should thus have been
    Though gifted lower than the meanest soul.

    And of my powers, one springs up to save
    From utter death a soul with such desire
    Confined to clay--of powers the only one
    Which marks me--an imagination which
    Has been a very angel, coming not
    In fitful visions, but beside me ever
    And never failing me; so, though my mind
    Forgets not, not a shred of life forgets,
    Yet I can take a secret pride in calling
    The dark past up to quell it regally.

    A mind like this must dissipate itself,
    But I have always had one lode-star; now,
    As I look back, I see that I have halted
    Or hastened as I looked towards that star--
    A need, a trust, a yearning after God:
    A feeling I have analyzed but late,
    But it existed, and was reconciled
    With a neglect of all I deemed his laws,
    Which yet, when seen in others, I abhorred.
    I felt as one beloved, and so shut in
    From fear: and thence I date my trust in signs
    And omens, for I saw God everywhere;
    And I can only lay it to the fruit
    Of a sad after-time that I could doubt
    Even his being--e'en the while I felt
    His presence, never acted from myself,
    Still trusted in a hand to lead me through
    All danger; and this feeling ever fought
    Against my weakest reason and resolve.

    And I can love nothing--and this dull truth
    Has come the last: but sense supplies a love
    Encircling me and mingling with my life.

    These make myself: I have long sought in vain
    To trace how they were formed by circumstance,
    Yet ever found them mould my wildest youth
    Where they alone displayed themselves, converted
    All objects to their use: now see their course!

    They came to me in my first dawn of life
    Which passed alone with wisest ancient books
    All halo-girt with fancies of my own;
    And I myself went with the tale--a god
    Wandering after beauty, or a giant
    Standing vast in the sunset--an old hunter
    Talking with gods, or a high-crested chief
    Sailing with troops of friends to Tenedos.
    I tell you, naught has ever been so clear
    As the place, the time, the fashion of those lives:
    I had not seen a work of lofty art,
    Nor woman's beauty nor sweet nature's face,
    Yet, I say, never morn broke clear as those
    On the dim clustered isles in the blue sea,
    The deep groves and white temples and wet caves:
    And nothing ever will surprise me now--
    Who stood beside the naked Swift-footed,
    Who bound my forehead with Proserpine's hair.

    And strange it is that I who could so dream
    Should e'er have stooped to aim at aught beneath--
    Aught low or painful; but I never doubted:
    So, as I grew, I rudely shaped my life
    To my immediate wants; yet strong beneath
    Was a vague sense of power though folded up--
    A sense that, though those shades and times were past,
    Their spirit dwelt in me, with them should rule.

    Then came a pause, and long restraint chained down
    My soul till it was changed. I lost myself,
    And were it not that I so loathe that loss,
    I could recall how first I learned to turn
    My mind against itself; and the effects
    In deeds for which remorse were vain as for
    The wanderings of delirious dream; yet thence
    Came cunning, envy, falsehood, all world's wrong
    That spotted me: at length I cleansed my soul.
    Yet long world's influence remained; and naught
    But the still life I led, apart once more,
    Which left me free to seek soul's old delights,
    Could e'er have brought me thus far back to peace.

    As peace returned, I sought out some pursuit;
    And song rose, no new impulse but the one
    With which all others best could be combined.
    My life has not been that of those whose heaven
    Was lampless save where poesy shone out;
    But as a clime where glittering mountain-tops
    And glancing sea and forests steeped in light
    Give back reflected the far-flashing sun;
    For music (which is earnest of a heaven,
    Seeing we know emotions strange by it,
    Not else to be revealed,) is like a voice,
    A low voice calling fancy, as a friend,
    To the green woods in the gay summer time:
    And she fills all the way with dancing shapes
    Which have made painters pale, and they go on
    Till stars look at them and winds call to them
    As they leave life's path for the twilight world
    Where the dead gather. This was not at first,
    For I scarce knew what I would do. I had
    An impulse but no yearning--only sang.

    And first I sang as I in dream have seen
    Music wait on a lyrist for some thought,
    Yet singing to herself until it came.
    I turned to those old times and scenes where all
    That's beautiful had birth for me, and made
    Rude verses on them all; and then I paused--
    I had done nothing, so I sought to know
    What other minds achieved. No fear outbroke
    As on the works of mighty bards I gazed,
    In the first joy at finding my own thoughts
    Recorded, my own fancies justified,
    And their aspirings but my very own.
    With them I first explored passion and mind,--
    All to begin afresh! I rather sought
    To rival what I wondered at than form
    Creations of my own; if much was light
    Lent by the others, much was yet my own.

    I paused again: a change was coming--came:
    I was no more a boy, the past was breaking
    Before the future and like fever worked.
    I thought on my new self, and all my powers
    Burst out. I dreamed not of restraint, but gazed
    On all things: schemes and systems went and came,
    And I was proud (being vainest of the weak)
    In wandering o'er thought's world to seek some one
    To be my prize, as if you wandered o'er
    The White Way for a star.

                            And my choice fell
    Not so much on a system as a man--
    On one, whom praise of mine shall not offend,
    Who was as calm as beauty, being such
    Unto mankind as thou to me, Pauline,--
    Believing in them and devoting all
    His soul's strength to their winning back to peace;
    Who sent forth hopes and longings for their sake,
    Clothed in all passion's melodies: such first
    Caught me and set me, slave of a sweet task,
    To disentangle, gather sense from song:
    Since, song-inwoven, lurked there words which seemed
    A key to a new world, the muttering
    Of angels, something yet unguessed by man.
    How my heart leapt as still I sought and found
    Much there, I felt my own soul had conceived,
    But there living and burning! Soon the orb
    Of his conceptions dawned on me; its praise
    Lives in the tongues of men, men's brows are high
    When his name means a triumph and a pride,
    So, my weak voice may well forbear to shame
    What seemed decreed my fate: I threw myself
    To meet it, I was vowed to liberty,
    Men were to be as gods and earth as heaven,
    And I--ah, what a life was mine to prove!
    My whole soul rose to meet it. Now, Pauline,
    I shall go mad, if I recall that time!

      Oh let me look back ere I leave forever
    The time which was an hour one fondly waits
    For a fair girl that comes a withered hag!
    And I was lonely, far from woods and fields,
    And amid dullest sights, who should be loose
    As a stag; yet I was full of bliss, who lived
    With Plato and who had the key to life;
    And I had dimly shaped my first attempt,
    And many a thought did I build up on thought,
    As the wild bee hangs cell to cell; in vain,
    For I must still advance, no rest for mind.

    'T was in my plan to look on real life,
    The life all new to me; my theories
    Were firm, so them I left, to look and learn
    Mankind, its cares, hopes, fears, its woes and joys;
    And, as I pondered on their ways, I sought
    How best life's end might be attained--an end
    Comprising every joy. I deeply mused.

    And suddenly without heart-wreck I awoke
    As from a dream: I said, "'T was beautiful,
    Yet but a dream, and so adieu to it!"
    As some world-wanderer sees in a far meadow
    Strange towers and high-walled gardens thick with trees,
    Where song takes shelter and delicious mirth
    From laughing fairy creatures peeping over,
    And on the morrow when he comes to lie
    Forever 'neath those garden-trees fruit-flushed
    Sung round by fairies, all his search is vain.
    First went my hopes of perfecting mankind,
    Next--faith in them, and then in freedom's self
    And virtue's self, then my own motives, ends
    And aims and loves, and human love went last.
    I felt this no decay, because new powers
    Rose as old feelings left--wit, mockery,
    Light-heartedness; for I had oft been sad,
    Mistrusting my resolves, but now I cast
    Hope joyously away: I laughed and said,
    "No more of this!" I must not think: at length
    I looked again to see if all went well.

    My powers were greater: as some temple seemed
    My soul, where naught is changed and incense rolls
    Around the altar, only God is gone
    And some dark spirit sitteth in his seat.
    So, I passed through the temple and to me
    Knelt troops of shadows, and they cried, "Hail, king!
    We serve thee now and thou shalt serve no more!
    Call on us, prove us, let us worship thee!"
    And I said, "Are ye strong? Let fancy bear me
    Far from the past!" And I was borne away,
    As Arab birds float sleeping in the wind,
    O'er deserts, towers and forests, I being calm.
    And I said, "I have nursed up energies,
    They will prey on me." And a band knelt low
    And cried, "Lord, we are here and we will make
    Safe way for thee in thine appointed life!
    But look on us!" And I said, "Ye will worship
    Me; should my heart not worship too?" They shouted,
    "Thyself, thou art our king!" So, I stood there
    Smiling--oh, vanity of vanities!
    For buoyant and rejoicing was the spirit
    With which I looked out how to end my course;
    I felt once more myself, my powers--all mine;
    I knew while youth and health so lifted me
    That, spite of all life's nothingness, no grief
    Came nigh me, I must ever be light-hearted;
    And that this knowledge was the only veil
    Betwixt joy and despair: so, if age came,
    I should be left--a wreck linked to a soul
    Yet fluttering, or mind-broken and aware
    Of my decay. So a long summer morn
    Found me; and ere noon came, I had resolved
    No age should come on me ere youth was spent,
    For I would wear myself out, like that morn
    Which wasted not a sunbeam; every hour
    I would make mine, and die.

                               And thus I sought
    To chain my spirit down which erst I freed
    For flights to fame: I said, "The troubled life
    Of genius, seen so gay when working forth
    Some trusted end, grows sad when all proves vain--
    How sad when men have parted with truth's peace
    For falsest fancy's sake, which waited first
    As an obedient spirit when delight
    Came without fancy's call: but alters soon,
    Comes darkened, seldom, hastens to depart,
    Leaving a heavy darkness and warm tears.
    But I shall never lose her; she will live
    Dearer for such seclusion. I but catch
    A hue, a glance of what I sing: so, pain
    Is linked with pleasure, for I ne'er may tell
    Half the bright sights which dazzle me; but now
    Mine shall be all the radiance: let them fade
    Untold--others shall rise as fair, as fast!
    And when all's done, the few dim gleams transferred,"--
    (For a new thought sprang up how well it were,
    Discarding shadowy hope, to weave such lays
    As straight encircle men with praise and love,
    So, I should not die utterly,--should bring
    One branch from the gold forest, like the knight
    Of old tales, witnessing I had been there)--
    "And when all's done, how vain seems e'en success--
    The vaunted influence poets have o'er men!
    'Tis a fine thing that one weak as myself
    Should sit in his lone room, knowing the words
    He utters in his solitude shall move
    Men like a swift wind--that though dead and gone,
    New eyes shall glisten when his beauteous dreams
    Of love come true in happier frames than his.
    Ay, the still night brings thoughts like these, but morn
    Comes and the mockery again laughs out
    At hollow praises, smiles allied to sneers;
    And my soul's idol ever whispers me
    To dwell with him and his unhonored song:
    And I foreknow my spirit, that would press
    First in the struggle, fail again to make
    All bow enslaved, and I again should sink.

    "And then know that this curse will come on us,
    To see our idols perish; we may wither,
    No marvel, we are clay, but our low fate
    Should not extend to those whom trustingly
    We sent before into time's yawning gulf
    To face what dread may lurk in darkness there.
    To find the painter's glory pass, and feel
    Music can move us not as once, or, worst,
    To weep decaying wits ere the frail body
    Decays! Naught makes me trust some love is true,
    But the delight of the contented lowness
    With which I gaze on him I keep forever
    Above me; I to rise and rival him?
    Feed his fame rather from my heart's best blood,
    Wither unseen that he may flourish still."

    Pauline, my soul's friend, thou dost pity yet
    How this mood swayed me when that soul found thine,
    When I had set myself to live this life,
    Defying all past glory. Ere thou camest
    I seemed defiant, sweet, for old delights
    Had flocked like birds again; music, my life,
    Nourished me more than ever; then the lore
    Loved for itself and all it shows--that king
    Treading the purple calmly to his death,
    While round him, like the clouds of eve, all dusk,
    The giant shades of fate, silently flitting,
    Pile the dim outline of the coming doom;
    And him sitting alone in blood while friends
    Are hunting far in the sunshine; and the boy
    With his white breast and brow and clustering curls
    Streaked with his mother's blood, but striving hard
    To tell his story ere his reason goes.
    And when I loved thee as love seemed so oft,
    Thou lovedst me indeed: I wondering searched
    My heart to find some feeling like such love,
    Believing I was still much I had been.
    Too soon I found all faith had gone from me,
    And the late glow of life, like change on clouds,
    Proved not the morn-blush widening into day,
    But eve faint-colored by the dying sun
    While darkness hastens quickly. I will tell
    My state as though 't were none of mine--despair
    Cannot come near us--this it is, my state.

    Souls alter not, and mine must still advance;
    Strange that I knew not, when I flung away
    My youth's chief aims, their loss might lead to loss
    Of what few I retained, and no resource
    Be left me: for behold how changed is all!
    I cannot chain my soul: it will not rest
    In its clay prison, this most narrow sphere:
    It has strange impulse, tendency, desire,
    Which nowise I account for nor explain,
    But cannot stifle, being bound to trust
    All feelings equally, to hear all sides:
    How can my life indulge them? yet they live,
    Referring to some state of life unknown.

    My selfishness is satiated not,
    It wears me like a flame; my hunger for
    All pleasure, howsoe'er minute, grows pain;
    I envy--how I envy him whose soul
    Turns its whole energies to some one end,
    To elevate an aim, pursue success
    However mean! So, my still baffled hope
    Seeks out abstractions; I would have one joy,
    But one in life, so it were wholly mine,
    One rapture all my soul could fill: and this
    Wild feeling places me in dream afar
    In some vast country where the eye can see
    No end to the far hills and dales bestrewn
    With shining towers and towns, till I grow mad
    Well-nigh, to know not one abode but holds
    Some pleasure, while my soul could grasp the world,
    But must remain this vile form's slave. I look
    With hope to age at last, which quenching much,
    May let me concentrate what sparks it spares.

    This restlessness of passion meets in me
    A craving after knowledge: the sole proof
    Of yet commanding will is in that power
    Repressed; for I beheld it in its dawn,
    The sleepless harpy with just-budding wings,
    And I considered whether to forego
    All happy ignorant hopes and fears, to live,
    Finding a recompense in its wild eyes.
    And when I found that I should perish so,
    I bade its wild eyes close from me forever,
    And I am left alone with old delights;
    See! it lies in me a chained thing, still prompt
    To serve me if I loose its slightest bond:
    I cannot but be proud of my bright slave.

    How should this earth's life prove my only sphere?
    Can I so narrow sense but that in life
    Soul still exceeds it? In their elements
    My love outsoars my reason; but since love
    Perforce receives its object from this earth
    While reason wanders chainless, the few truths
    Caught from its wanderings have sufficed to quell
    Love chained below; then what were love, set free,
    Which, with the object it demands, would pass
    Reason companioning the seraphim?
    No, what I feel may pass all human love
    Yet fall far short of what my love should be.
    And yet I seem more warped in this than aught,
    Myself stands out more hideously: of old
    I could forget myself in friendship, fame,
    Liberty, nay, in love of mightier souls;
    But I begin to know what thing hate is--
    To sicken and to quiver and grow white--
    And I myself have furnished its first prey.
    Hate of the weak and ever-wavering will,
    The selfishness, the still-decaying frame ...
    But I must never grieve whom wing can waft
    Far from such thoughts--as now. Andromeda!
    And she is with me: years roll, I shall change,
    But change can touch her not--so beautiful
    With her fixed eyes, earnest and still, and hair
    Lifted and spread by the salt-sweeping breeze,
    And one red beam, all the storm leaves in heaven,
    Resting upon her eyes and hair, such hair,
    As she awaits the snake on the wet beach
    By the dark rock and the white wave just breaking
    At her feet; quite naked and alone; a thing
    I doubt not, nor fear for, secure some god
    To save will come in thunder from the stars.
    Let it pass! Soul requires another change.
    I will be gifted with a wondrous mind,
    Yet sunk by error to men's sympathy,
    And in the wane of life, yet only so
    As to call up their fears; and there shall come
    A time requiring youth's best energies;
    And lo, I fling age, sorrow, sickness off,
    And rise triumphant, triumph through decay.
    And thus it is that I supply the chasm
    'Twixt what I am and all I fain would be:
    But then to know nothing, to hope for nothing,
    To seize on life's dull joys from a strange fear
    Lest, losing them, all's lost and naught remains!

    There 's some vile juggle with my reason here;
    I feel I but explain to my own loss
    These impulses: they live no less the same.
    Liberty! what though I despair? my blood
    Rose never at a slave's name proud as now.
    Oh sympathies, obscured by sophistries!--
    Why else have I sought refuge in myself,
    But from the woes I saw and could not stay?
    Love! is not this to love thee, my Pauline?
    I cherish prejudice, lest I be left
    Utterly loveless? witness my belief
    In poets, though sad change has come there too;
    No more I leave myself to follow them--
    Unconsciously I measure me by them--
    Let me forget it: and I cherish most
    My love of England--how her name, a word
    Of hers in a strange tongue makes my heart beat!

    Pauline, could I but break the spell! Not now--
    All's fever--but when calm shall come again,
    I am prepared: I have made life my own.
    I would not be content with all the change
    One frame should feel, but I have gone in thought
    Through all conjuncture, I have lived all life
    When it is most alive, where strangest fate
    New-shapes it past surmise--the throes of men
    Bit by some curse or in the grasps of doom
    Half-visible and still-increasing round,
    Or crowning their wide being's general aim.

    These are wild fancies, but I feel, sweet friend,
    As one breathing his weakness to the ear
    Of pitying angel--dear as a winter flower,
    A slight flower growing alone, and offering
    Its frail cup of three leaves to the cold sun,
    Yet joyous and confiding like the triumph
    Of a child: and why am I not worthy thee?
    I can live all the life of plants, and gaze
    Drowsily on the bees that flit and play,
    Or bare my breast for sunbeams which will kill,
    Or open in the night of sounds, to look
    For the dim stars; I can mount with the bird
    Leaping airily his pyramid of leaves
    And twisted boughs of some tall mountain tree,
    Or rise cheerfully springing to the heavens;
    Or like a fish breathe deep the morning air
    In the misty sun-warm water; or with flower
    And tree can smile in light at the sinking sun
    Just as the storm comes, as a girl would look
    On a departing lover--most serene.

    Pauline, come with me, see how I could build
    A home for us, out of the world, in thought!
    I am uplifted: fly with me, Pauline!

    Night, and one single ridge of narrow path
    Between the sullen river and the woods
    Waving and muttering, for the moonless night
    Has shaped them into images of life,
    Like the uprising of the giant-ghosts,
    Looking on earth to know how their sons fare:
    Thou art so close by me, the roughest swell
    Of wind in the tree-tops hides not the panting
    Of thy soft breasts. No, we will pass to morning--
    Morning, the rocks and valleys and old woods.
    How the sun brightens in the mist, and here,
    Half in the air, like creatures of the place,
    Trusting the element, living on high boughs
    That swing in the wind--look at the silver spray
    Flung from the foam-sheet of the cataract
    Amid the broken rocks! Shall we stay here
    With the wild hawks? No, ere the hot noon come,
    Dive we down--safe! See this our new retreat
    Walled in with a sloped mound of matted shrubs,
    Dark, tangled, old and green, still sloping down
    To a small pool whose waters lie asleep
    Amid the trailing boughs turned water-plants:
    And tall trees overarch to keep us in,
    Breaking the sunbeams into emerald shafts,
    And in the dreamy water one small group
    Of two or three strange trees are got together
    Wondering at all around, as strange beasts herd
    Together far from their own land: all wildness,
    No turf nor moss, for boughs and plants pave all,
    And tongues of bank go shelving in the lymph,
    Where the pale-throated snake reclines his head,
    And old gray stones lie making eddies there,
    The wild-mice cross them dry-shod. Deeper in!
    Shut thy soft eyes--now look--still deeper in!
    This is the very heart of the woods all round
    Mountain-like heaped above us; yet even here
    One pond of water gleams; far off the river
    Sweeps like a sea, barred out from land; but one--
    One thin clear sheet has overleaped and wound
    Into this silent depth, which gained, it lies
    Still, as but let by sufferance; the trees bend
    O'er it as wild men watch a sleeping girl,
    And through their roots long creeping plants out-stretch
    Their twined hair, steeped and sparkling; farther on,
    Tall rushes and thick flag-knots have combined
    To narrow it; so, at length, a silver thread,
    It winds, all noiselessly through the deep wood
    Till through a cleft-way, through the moss and stone,
    It joins its parent-river with a shout.

    Up for the glowing day, leave the old woods!
    See, they part like a ruined arch: the sky!
    Nothing but sky appears, so close the roots
    And grass of the hill-top level with the air--
    Blue sunny air, where a great cloud floats laden
    With light, like a dead whale that white birds pick,
    Floating away in the sun in some north sea.
    Air, air, fresh life-blood, thin and searching air,
    The clear, dear breath of God that loveth us,
    Where small birds reel and winds take their delight!
    Water is beautiful, but not like air:
    See, where the solid azure waters lie
    Made as of thickened air, and down below,
    The fern-ranks like a forest spread themselves
    As though each pore could feel the element;
    Where the quick glancing serpent winds his way,
    Float with me there, Pauline!--but not like air.

    Down the hill! Stop--a clump of trees, see, set
    On a heap of rock, which look o'er the far plain:
    So, envious climbing shrubs would mount to rest
    And peer from their spread boughs; wide they wave, looking
    At the muleteers who whistle on their way,
    To the merry chime of morning bells, past all
    The little smoking cots, mid fields and banks
    And copses bright in the sun. My spirit wanders:
    Hedgerows for me--those living hedgerows where
    The bushes close and clasp above and keep
    Thought in--I am concentrated--I feel;
    But my soul saddens when it looks beyond:
    I cannot be immortal, taste all joy.

    O God, where do they tend--these struggling aims?
    What would I have? What is this "sleep" which seems
    To bound all? can there be a "waking" point
    Of crowning life? The soul would never rule;
    It would be first in all things, it would have
    Its utmost pleasure filled, but, that complete,
    Commanding, for commanding, sickens it.
    The last point I can trace is--rest beneath
    Some better essence than itself, in weakness;
    This is "myself," not what I think should be:
    And what is that I hunger for but God?

    My God, my God, let me for once look on thee
    As though naught else existed, we alone!
    And as creation crumbles, my soul's spark
    Expands till I can say,--Even from myself
    I need thee and I feel thee and I love thee.
    I do not plead my rapture in thy works
    For love of thee, nor that I feel as one
    Who cannot die: but there is that in me
    Which turns to thee, which loves or which should love.

    Why have I girt myself with this hell-dress?
    Why have I labored to put out my life?
    Is it not in my nature to adore,
    And e'en for all my reason do I not
    Feel him, and thank him, and pray to him--now?
    Can I forego the trust that he loves me?
    Do I not feel a love which only ONE...
    O thou pale form, so dimly seen, deep-eyed!
    I have denied thee calmly--do I not
    Pant when I read of thy consummate power.
    And burn to see thy calm pure truths out-flash
    The brightest gleams of earth's philosophy?
    Do I not shake to hear aught question thee?
    If I am erring save me, madden me,
    Take from me powers and pleasures, let me die
    Ages, so I see thee! I am knit round
    As with a charm by sin and lust and pride.
    Yet though my wandering dreams have seen all shapes
    Of strange delight, oft have I stood by thee--
    Have I been keeping lonely watch with thee
    In the damp night by weeping Olivet,
    Or leaning on thy bosom, proudly less,
    Or dying with thee on the lonely cross,
    Or witnessing thine outburst from the tomb.

    A mortal, sin's familiar friend, doth here
    Avow that he will give all earth's reward,
    But to believe and humbly teach the faith,
    In suffering and poverty and shame,
    Only believing he is not unloved.

    And now, my Pauline, I am thine forever!
    I feel the spirit which has buoyed me up
    Desert me, and old shades are gathering fast;
    Yet while the last light waits, I would say much,
    This chiefly, it is gain that I have said
    Somewhat of love I ever felt for thee
    But seldom told; our hearts so beat together
    That speech seemed mockery; but when dark hours come,
    And joy departs, and thou, sweet, deem'st it strange
    A sorrow moves me, thou canst not remove,
    Look on this lay I dedicate to thee,
    Which through thee I began, which thus I end,
    Collecting the last gleams to strive to tell
    How I am thine, and more than ever now
    That I sink fast: yet though I deeplier sink,
    No less song proves one word has brought me bliss,
    Another still may win bliss surely back.
    Thou knowest, dear, I could not think all calm,
    For fancies followed thought and bore me off,
    And left all indistinct; ere one was caught
    Another glanced; so, dazzled by my wealth,
    I knew not which to leave nor which to choose,
    For all so floated, naught was fixed and firm.
    And then thou said'st a perfect bard was one
    Who chronicled the stages of all life,
    And so thou bad'st me shadow this first stage.
    'T is done, and even now I recognize
    The shift, the change from last to past--discern
    Faintly how life is truth and truth is good.
    And why thou must be mine is, that e'en now
    In the dim hush of night, that I have done,
    Despite the sad forebodings, love looks through--
    Whispers,--E'en at the last I have her still,
    With her delicious eyes as clear as heaven
    When rain in a quick shower has beat down mist,
    And clouds float white above like broods of swans.
    How the blood lies upon her cheek, outspread
    As thinned by kisses! only in her lips
    It wells and pulses like a living thing,
    And her neck looks like marble misted o'er
    With love-breath,--a Pauline from heights above,
    Stooping beneath me, looking up--one look
    As I might kill her and be loved the more.

    So, love me--me, Pauline, and naught but me,
    Never leave loving! Words are wild and weak,
    Believe them not, Pauline! I stained myself
    But to behold thee purer by my side,
    To show thou art my breath, my life, a last
    Resource, an extreme want: never believe
    Aught better could so look on thee; nor seek
    Again the world of good thoughts left for mine!
    There were bright troops of undiscovered suns,
    Each equal in their radiant course; there were
    Clusters of far fair isles which ocean kept
    For his own joy, and his waves broke on them
    Without a choice; and there was a dim crowd
    Of visions, each a part of some grand whole:
    And one star left his peers and came with peace
    Upon a storm, and all eyes pined for him;
    And one isle harbored a sea-beaten ship,
    And the crew wandered in its bowers and plucked
    Its fruits and gave up all their hopes of home;
    And one dream came to a pale poet's sleep,
    And he said, "I am singled out by God,
    No sin must touch me." Words are wild and weak,
    But what they would express is,--Leave me not,
    Still sit by me with beating breast and hair
    Loosened, be watching earnest by my side,
    Turning my books or kissing me when I
    Look up--like summer wind! Be still to me
    A help to music's mystery which mind fails
    To fathom, its solution, no mere clue!
    O reason's pedantry, life's rule prescribed!
    I hopeless, I the loveless, hope and love.
    Wiser and better, know me now, not when
    You loved me as I was. Smile not! I have
    Much yet to dawn on you, to gladden you.
    No more of the past! I'll look within no more,
    I have too trusted my own lawless wants,
    Too trusted my vain self, vague intuition--
    Draining soul's wine alone in the still night,
    And seeing how, as gathering films arose,
    As by an inspiration life seemed bare
    And grinning in its vanity, while ends
    Foul to be dreamed of, smiled at me as fixed
    And fair, while others changed from fair to foul
    As a young witch turns an old hag at night.
    No more of this! We will go hand in hand,
    I with thee, even as a child--love's slave,
    Looking no farther than his liege commands.

    And thou hast chosen where this life shall be:
    The land which gave me thee shall be our home,
    Where nature lies all wild amid her lakes
    And snow-swathed mountains and vast pines begirt
    With ropes of snow--where nature lies all bare,
    Suffering none to view her but a race
    Or stinted or deformed, like the mute dwarfs
    Which wait upon a naked Indian queen.
    And there (the time being when the heavens are thick
    With storm) I'll sit with thee while thou dost sing
    Thy native songs, gay as a desert bird
    Which crieth as it flies for perfect joy,
    Or telling me old stories of dead knights;
    Or I will read great lays to thee--how she,
    The fair pale sister, went to her chill grave
    With power to love and to be loved and live:
    Or we will go together, like twin gods
    Of the infernal world, with scented lamp
    Over the dead, to call and to awake,
    Over the unshaped images which lie
    Within my mind's cave: only leaving all,
    That tells of the past doubt. So, when spring comes
    With sunshine back again like an old smile,
    And the fresh waters and awakened birds
    And budding woods await us, I shall be
    Prepared, and we will question life once more,
    Till its old sense shall come renewed by change,
    Like some clear thought which harsh words veiled before;
    Feeling God loves us, and that all which errs
    Is but a dream which death will dissipate.
    And then what need of longer exile? Seek
    My England, and, again there, calm approach
    All I once fled from, calmly look on those
    The works of my past weakness, as one views
    Some scene where danger met him long before.
    Ah that such pleasant life should be but dreamed!

    But whate'er come of it, and though it fade,
    And though ere the cold morning all be gone,
    As it may be;--though music wait to wile,
    And strange eyes and bright wine lure, laugh like sin
    Which steals back softly on a soul half saved,
    And I the first deny, decry, despise,
    With this avowal, these intents so fair,--
    Still be it all my own, this moment's pride!
    No less I make an end in perfect joy.
    E'en in my brightest time, a lurking fear
    Possessed me: I well knew my weak resolves,
    I felt the witchery that makes mind sleep
    Over its treasure, as one half afraid
    To make his riches definite: but now
    These feelings shall not utterly be lost,
    I shall not know again that nameless care
    Lest, leaving all undone in youth, some new
    And undreamed end reveal itself too late:
    For this song shall remain to tell forever
    That when I lost all hope of such a change,
    Suddenly beauty rose on me again.
    No less I make an end in perfect joy,
    For I, who thus again was visited,
    Shall doubt not many another bliss awaits,
    And, though this weak soul sink and darkness whelm,
    Some little word shall light it, raise aloft,
    To where I clearlier see and better love,
    As I again go o'er the tracts of thought
    Like one who has a right, and I shall live
    With poets, calmer, purer still each time,
    And beauteous shapes will come for me to seize,
    And unknown secrets will be trusted me
    Which were denied the waverer once; but now
    I shall be priest and prophet as of old.

    Sun-treader, I believe in God and truth
    And love; and as one just escaped from death
    Would bind himself in bands of friends to feel
    He lives indeed, so, I would lean on thee!
    Thou must be ever with me, most in gloom
    If such must come, but chiefly when I die,
    For I seem, dying, as one going in the dark
    To fight a giant: but live thou forever,
    And be to all what thou hast been to me!
    All in whom this wakes pleasant thoughts of me
    Know my last state is happy, free from doubt
    Or touch of fear. Love me and wish me well.


Mr. Gosse in his _Personalia_ copies from the _Monthly Repository_
the following sonnet. Three other pieces first printed in the
same periodical will be found as afterward grouped in _Bells and

    Eyes, calm beside thee (Lady, couldst thou know!)
      May turn away thick with fast gathering tears:
    I glance not where all gaze: thrilling and low
      Their passionate praises reach thee--my cheek wears
        Alone no wonder when thou passest by;
        Thy tremulous lids, bent and suffused, reply
    To the irrepressible homage which doth glow
      On every lip but mine: if in thine ears
    Their accents linger--and thou dost recall
        Me as I stood, still, guarded, very pale,
      Beside each votarist whose lighted brow
    Wore worship like an aureole, "O'er them all
        My beauty," thou wilt murmur, "did prevail
      Save that one only:"--Lady, couldst thou know!

    _August_ 17, 1834.





    LONDON, March 15, 1835.           R. B.

The dedication of _Paracelsus_ was, in a degree, the payment of a
debt, for it was the young count, four years older than Browning, and
at the time a private agent in England between the Duchesse de Berri
and her royalist friends in France, who suggested the subject to the
poet. When first published _Paracelsus_ had the following Preface: "I
am anxious that the reader should not, at the very outset,--mistaking
my performance for one of a class with which it has nothing in
common,--judge it by principles on which it was never moulded, and
subject it to a standard to which it was never meant to conform. I
therefore anticipate his discovery, that it is an attempt, probably
more novel than happy, to reverse the method usually adopted by writers
whose aim it is to set forth any phenomena of the mind or the passions,
by the operation of persons and events; and that, instead of having
recourse to an external machinery of incidents to create and evolve
the crisis I desire to produce, I have ventured to display somewhat
minutely the mood itself in its rise and progress, and have suffered
the agency by which it is influenced and determined, to be generally
discernible in its effects alone, and subordinate throughout, if not
altogether excluded: and this for a reason. I have endeavored to write
a poem, not a drama: the canons of the drama are well known, and I
cannot but think that, inasmuch as they have immediate regard to stage
representation, the peculiar advantages they hold out are really such
only so long as the purpose for which they were at first instituted
is kept in view. I do not very well understand what is called a
Dramatic Poem, wherein all those restrictions only submitted to on
account of compensating good in the original scheme are scrupulously
retained, as though for some special fitness in themselves--and all new
facilities placed at an author's disposal by the vehicle he selects,
as pertinaciously rejected. It is certain, however, that a work like
mine depends on the intelligence and sympathy of the reader for its
success,--indeed were my scenes stars, it must be his coöperating
fancy which, supplying all chasms, shall collect the scattered lights
into one constellation--a Lyre or a Crown. I trust for his indulgence
towards a poem which had not been imagined six months ago; and that
even should he think slightingly of the present (an experiment I am
in no case likely to repeat) he will not be prejudiced against other
productions which may follow in a more popular, and perhaps less
difficult form."

Mr. Browning, senior, paid for the publication of _Paracelsus_. In its
final form, as here given, it is greatly changed, not in structure but
in phrase. Mr. Cooke states that the change affects nearly a third of
the lines.


    FESTUS and MICHAL, his friends.
    APRILE, an Italian poet.


SCENE, _Würzburg: a garden in the environs_. 1512.


    _Paracelsus._ Come close to me, dear friends; still closer; thus!
    Close to the heart which, though long time roll by
    Ere it again beat quicker, pressed to yours,
    As now it beats--perchance a long, long time--
    At least henceforth your memories shall make
    Quiet and fragrant as befits their home.
    Nor shall my memory want a home in yours--
    Alas, that it requires too well such free
    Forgiving love as shall embalm it there!
    For if you would remember me aright,
    As I was born to be, you must forget
    All fitful, strange and moody waywardness
    Which e'er confused my better spirit, to dwell
    Only on moments such as these, dear friends!
    --My heart no truer, but my words and ways
    More true to it: as Michal, some months hence,
    Will say, "this autumn was a pleasant time,"
    For some few sunny days; and overlook
    Its bleak wind, hankering after pining leaves.
    Autumn would fain be sunny; I would look
    Liker my nature's truth: and both are frail,
    And both beloved, for all our frailty.

    _Michal._                        Aureole!

    _Par._ Drop by drop! she is weeping like a child!
    Not so! I am content--more than content;
    Nay, autumn wins you best by this its mute
    Appeal to sympathy for its decay:
    Look up, sweet Michal, nor esteem the less
    Your stained and drooping vines their grapes bow down,
    Nor blame those creaking trees bent with their fruit,
    That apple-tree with a rare after-birth
    Of peeping blooms sprinkled its wealth among!
    Then for the winds--what wind that ever raved
    Shall vex that ash which overlooks you both,
    So proud it wears its berries? Ah, at length,
    The old smile meet for her, the lady of this
    Sequestered nest!--this kingdom, limited
    Alone by one old populous green wall
    Tenanted by the ever-busy flies.
    Gray crickets and shy lizards and quick spiders,
    Each family of the silver-threaded moss--
    Which, look through near, this way, and it appears
    A stubble-field or a cane-brake, a marsh
    Of bulrush whitening in the sun: laugh now!
    Fancy the crickets, each one in his house,
    Looking out, wondering at the world--or best,
    Yon painted snail with his gay shell of dew,
    Travelling to see the glossy balls high up
    Hung by the caterpillar, like gold lamps.

    _Mich._ In truth we have lived carelessly and well.

    _Par._ And shall, my perfect pair!--each, trust me, born
    For the other; nay, your very hair, when mixed,
    Is of one hue. For where save in this nook
    Shall you two walk, when I am far away,
    And wish me prosperous fortune? Stay: that plant
    Shall never wave its tangles lightly and softly,
    As a queen's languid and imperial arm
    Which scatters crowns among her lovers, but you
    Shall be reminded to predict to me
    Some great success! Ah see, the sun sinks broad
    Behind Saint Saviour's: wholly gone, at last!

    _Festus._ Now, Aureole, stay those wandering eyes awhile!
    You are ours to-night, at least; and while you spoke
    Of Michal and her tears, I thought that none
    Could willing leave what he so seemed to love:
    But that last look destroys my dream--that look
    As if, where'er you gazed, there stood a star!
    How far was Würzburg with its church and spire
    And garden-walls and all things they contain,
    From that look's far alighting?

    _Par._                    I but spoke
    And looked alike from simple joy to see
    The beings I love best, shut in so well
    From all rude chances like to be my lot,
    That, when afar, my weary spirit,--disposed
    To lose awhile its care in soothing thoughts
    Of them, their pleasant features, looks and words,--
    Needs never hesitate, nor apprehend
    Encroaching trouble may have readied them too,
    Nor have recourse to fancy's busy aid
    And fashion even a wish in their behalf
    Beyond what they possess already here;
    But, unobstructed, may at once forget
    Itself in them, assured how well they fare.
    Beside, this Festus knows he holds me one
    Whom quiet and its charms arrest in vain,
    One scarce aware of all the joys I quit,
    Too filled with airy hopes to make account
    Of soft delights his own heart garners up:
    Whereas behold how much our sense of all
    That's beauteous proves alike! When Festus learns
    That every common pleasure of the world
    Affects me as himself; that I have just
    As varied appetite for joy derived
    From common things; a stake in life, in short,
    Like his; a stake which rash pursuit of aims
    That life affords not, would as soon destroy;--
    He may convince himself that, this in view,
    I shall act well advised. And last, because,
    Though heaven and earth and all things were at stake,
    Sweet Michal must not weep, our parting eve.

    _Fest._ True: and the eve is deepening, and we sit
    As little anxious to begin our talk
    As though to-morrow I could hint of it
    As we paced arm-in-arm the cheerful town
    At sun-dawn; or could whisper it by fits
    (Trithemius busied with his class the while)
    In that dim chamber where the noon-streaks peer
    Half-frightened by the awful tomes around;
    Or in some grassy lane unbosom all
    From even-blush to midnight: but, to-morrow!
    Have I full leave to tell my inmost mind?
    We have been brothers, and henceforth the world
    Will rise between us:--all my freest mind?
    'T is the last night, dear Aureole!

    _Par._                        Oh, say on!
    Devise some test of love, some arduous feat
    To be performed for you: say on! If night
    Be spent the while, the better! Recall how oft
    My wondrous plans and dreams and hopes and fears
    Have--never wearied you, oh no!--as I
    Recall, and never vividly as now,
    Your true affection, born when Einsiedeln
    And its green hills were all the world to us;
    And still increasing to this night which ends
    My further stay at Würzburg. Oh, one day
    You shall be very proud! Say on, dear friends!

    _Fest._ In truth? 'T is for my proper peace, indeed,
    Rather than yours; for vain all projects seem
    To stay your course: I said my latest hope
    Is fading even now. A story tells
    Of some far embassy despatched to win
    The favor of an eastern king, and how
    The gifts they offered proved but dazzling dust
    Shed from the ore-beds native to his clime.
    Just so, the value of repose and love,
    I meant should tempt you, better far than I
    You seem to comprehend; and yet desist
    No whit from projects where repose nor love
    Has part.

    _Par._ Once more? Alas! As I foretold.

    _Fest._ A solitary brier the bank puts forth
    To save our swan's nest floating out to sea.

    _Par._ Dear Festus, hear me. What is it you wish?
    That I should lay aside my heart's pursuit,
    Abandon the sole ends for which I live,
    Reject God's great commission, and so die!
    You bid me listen for your true love's sake:
    Yet how has grown that love? Even in a long
    And patient cherishing of the self-same spirit
    It now would quell; as though a mother hoped
    To stay the lusty manhood of the child
    Once weak upon her knees. I was not born
    Informed and fearless from the first, but shrank
    From aught which marked me out apart from men:
    I would have lived their life, and died their death,
    Lost in their ranks, eluding destiny:
    But you first guided me through doubt and fear,
    Taught me to know mankind and know myself;
    And now that I am strong and full of hope,
    That, from my soul, I can reject all aims
    Save those your earnest words made plain to me,
    Now that I touch the brink of my design,
    When I would have a triumph in their eyes,
    A glad cheer in their voices--Michal weeps,
    And Festus ponders gravely!

    _Fest._                When you deign
    To hear my purpose ...

    _Par._            Hear it? I can say
    Beforehand all this evening's conference!
    'T is this way, Michal, that he uses: first,
    Or he declares, or I, the leading points
    Of our best scheme of life, what is man's end
    And what God's will; no two faiths e'er agreed
    As his with mine. Next, each of us allows
    Faith should be acted on as best we may;
    Accordingly, I venture to submit
    My plan, in lack of better, for pursuing
    The path which God's will seems to authorize.
    Well, he discerns much good in it, avows
    This motive worthy, that hope plausible,
    A danger here to be avoided, there
    An oversight to be repaired: in fine,
    Our two minds go together--all the good
    Approved by him, I gladly recognize,
    All he counts bad, I thankfully discard,
    And naught forbids my looking up at last
    For some stray comfort in his cautious brow.
    When lo! I learn that, spite of all, there lurks
    Some innate and inexplicable germ
    Of failure in my scheme; so that at last
    It all amounts to this--the sovereign proof
    That we devote ourselves to God, is seen
    In living just as though no God there were;
    A life which, prompted by the sad and blind
    Folly of man, Festus abhors the most;
    But which these tenets sanctify at once,
    Though to less subtle wits it seems the same,
    Consider it how they may.

    _Mich._             Is it so, Festus?
    He speaks so calmly and kindly: is it so?

    _Par._ Reject those glorious visions of God's love
    And man's design; laugh loud that God should send
    Vast longings to direct us; say how soon
    Power satiates these, or lust, or gold; I know
    The world's cry well, and how to answer it.
    But this ambiguous warfare ...

    _Fest._               ... Wearies so
    That you will grant no last leave to your friend
    To urge it?--for his sake, not yours? I wish
    To send my soul in good hopes after you;
    Never to sorrow that uncertain words
    Erringly apprehended, a new creed
    Ill understood, begot rash trust in you,
    Had share in your undoing.

    _Par._              Choose your side,
    Hold or renounce: but meanwhile blame me not
    Because I dare to act on your own views,
    Nor shrink when they point onward, nor espy
    A peril where they most ensure success.

    _Fest._ Prove that to me--but that! Prove you abide
    Within their warrant, nor presumptuous boast
    God's labor laid on you; prove, all you covet,
    A mortal may expect; and, most of all,
    Prove the strange course you now affect, will lead
    To its attainment--and I bid you speed,
    Nay, count the minutes till you venture forth!
    You smile; but I had gathered from slow thought--
    Much musing on the fortunes of my friend--
    Matter I deemed could not be urged in vain;
    But it all leaves me at my need: in shreds
    And fragments I must venture what remains.

    _Mich._ Ask at once, Festus, wherefore he should scorn....

    _Fest._ Stay, Michal: Aureole, I speak guardedly
    And gravely, knowing well, whate'er your error,
    This is no ill-considered choice of yours,
    No sudden fancy of an ardent boy.
    Not from your own confiding words alone
    Am I aware your passionate heart long since
    Gave birth to, nourished and at length matures
    This scheme. I will not speak of Einsiedeln,
    Where I was born your elder by some years
    Only to watch you fully from the first:
    In all beside, our mutual tasks were fixed
    Even then--'t was mine to have you in my view
    As you had your own soul and those intents
    Which filled it when, to crown your dearest wish,
    With a tumultuous heart, you left with me
    Our childhood's home to join the favored few
    Whom, here, Trithemius condescends to teach
    A portion of his lore: and not one youth
    Of those so favored, whom you now despise,
    Came earnest as you came, resolved, like you,
    To grasp all, and retain all, and deserve
    By patient toil a wide renown like his.
    Now, this new ardor which supplants the old
    I watched, too; 't was significant and strange,
    In one matched to his soul's content at length
    With rivals in the search for wisdom's prize,
    To see the sudden pause, the total change;
    From contest, the transition to repose--
    From pressing onward as his fellows pressed,
    To a blank idleness, yet most unlike
    The dull stagnation of a soul, content,
    Once foiled, to leave betimes a thriveless quest.
    That careless bearing, free from all pretence
    Even of contempt for what it ceased to seek--
    Smiling humility, praising much, yet waiving
    What it professed to praise--though not so well
    Maintained but that rare outbreaks, fierce and brief,
    Revealed the hidden scorn, as quickly curbed.
    That ostentatious show of past defeat,
    That ready acquiescence in contempt,
    I deemed no other than the letting go
    His shivered sword, of one about to spring
    Upon his foe's throat; but it was not thus:
    Not that way looked your brooding purpose then.
    For after-signs disclosed, what you confirmed,
    That you prepared to task to the uttermost
    Your strength, in furtherance of a certain aim
    Which--while it bore the name your rivals gave
    Their own most puny efforts--was so vast
    In scope that it included their best flights,
    Combined them, and desired to gain one prize
    In place of many,--the secret of the world,
    Of man, and man's true purpose, path and fate.
    --That you, not nursing as a mere vague dream
    This purpose, with the sages of the past,
    Have struck upon a way to this, if all
    You trust be true, which following, heart and soul,
    You, if a man may, dare aspire to KNOW:
    And that this aim shall differ from a host
    Of aims alike in character and kind,
    Mostly in this,--that in itself alone
    Shall its reward be, not an alien end
    Blending therewith; no hope nor fear nor joy
    Nor woe, to elsewhere move you, but this pure
    Devotion to sustain you or betray:
    Thus you aspire.

    _Par._     You shall not state it thus:
    I should not differ from the dreamy crew
    You speak of. I profess no other share
    In the selection of my lot, than this
    My ready answer to the will of God
    Who summons me to be his organ. All
    Whose innate strength supports them shall succeed
    No better than the sages.

    _Fest._             Such the aim, then,
    God sets before you; and 't is doubtless need
    That he appoint no less the way of praise
    Than the desire to praise; for, though I hold,
    With you, the setting forth such praise to be
    The natural end and service of a man,
    And hold such praise is best attained when man
    Attains the general welfare of his kind--
    Yet this, the end, is not the instrument.
    Presume not to serve God apart from such
    Appointed channel as he wills shall gather
    Imperfect tributes, for that sole obedience
    Valued perchance! He seeks not that his altars
    Blaze, careless how, so that they do but blaze.
    Suppose this, then; that God selected you
    To KNOW (heed well your answers, for my faith
    Shall meet implicitly what they affirm),
    I cannot think you dare annex to such
    Selection aught beyond a steadfast will,
    An intense hope; nor let your gifts create
    Scorn or neglect of ordinary means
    Conducive to success, make destiny
    Dispense with man's endeavor. Now, dare you search
    Your inmost heart, and candidly avow
    Whether you have not rather wild desire
    For this distinction than security
    Of its existence? whether you discern
    The path to the fulfilment of your purpose
    Clear as that purpose--and again, that purpose
    Clear as your yearning to be singled out
    For its pursuer. Dare you answer this?

    _Par._ (_after a pause_). No, I have naught to fear! Who will may know
    The secret'st workings of my soul. What though
    It be so?--if indeed the strong desire
    _Eclipse the aim in me?_--if splendor break
    Upon the outset of my path alone,
    And duskest shade succeed? What fairer seal
    Shall I require to my authentic mission
    Than this fierce energy?--this instinct striving
    Because its nature is to strive?--enticed
    By the security of no broad course,
    Without success forever in its eyes!
    How know I else such glorious fate my own,
    But in the restless irresistible force
    That works within me? Is it for human will
    To institute such impulses?--still less,
    To disregard their promptings! What should I
    Do, kept among you all; your loves, your cares,
    Your life--all to be mine? Be sure that God
    Ne'er dooms to waste the strength he deigns impart!
    Ask the geier-eagle why she stoops at once
    Into the vast and unexplored abyss,
    What full-grown power informs her from the first,
    Why she not marvels, strenuously beating
    The silent boundless regions of the sky!
    Be sure they sleep not whom God needs! Nor fear
    Their holding light his charge, when every hour
    That finds that charge delayed, is a new death.
    This for the faith in which I trust; and hence
    I can abjure so well the idle arts
    These pedants strive to learn and teach; Black Arts,
    Great Works, the Secret and Sublime, forsooth--
    Let others prize: too intimate a tie
    Connects me with our God! A sullen fiend
    To do my bidding, fallen and hateful sprites
    To help me--what are these, at best, beside
    God helping, God directing everywhere,
    So that the earth shall yield her secrets up,
    And every object there be charged to strike,
    Teach, gratify her master God appoints?
    And I am young, my Festus, happy and free!
    I can devote myself; I have a life
    To give; I, singled out for this, the One!
    Think, think! the wide East, where all Wisdom sprung;
    The bright South, where she dwelt; the hopeful North,
    All are passed o'er--it lights on me! 'T is time
    New hopes should animate the world, new light
    Should dawn from new revealings to a race
    Weighed down so long, forgotten so long; thus shall
    The heaven reserved for us at last receive
    Creatures whom no unwonted splendors blind,
    But ardent to confront the unclouded blaze,
    Whose beams not seldom blessed their pilgrimage,
    Not seldom glorified their life below.

    _Fest._ My words have their old fate and make faint stand
    Against your glowing periods. Call this, truth--
    Why not pursue it in a fast retreat,
    Some one of Learning's many palaces,
    After approved example?--seeking there
    Calm converse with the great dead, soul to soul,
    Who laid up treasure with the like intent
    --So lift yourself into their airy place,
    And fill out full their unfulfilled careers,
    Unravelling the knots their baffled skill
    Pronounced inextricable, true!--but left
    Far less confused. A fresh eye, a fresh hand,
    Might do much at their vigor's waning-point;
    Succeeding with new-breathed new-hearted force,
    As at old games the runner snatched the torch
    From runner still: this way success might be.
    But you have coupled with your enterprise
    An arbitrary self-repugnant scheme
    Of seeking it in strange and untried paths.
    What books are in the desert? Writes the sea
    The secret of her yearning in vast caves
    Where yours will fall the first of human feet?
    Has wisdom sat there and recorded aught
    You press to read? Why turn aside from her
    To visit, where her vesture never glanced,
    Now--solitudes consigned to barrenness
    By God's decree, which who shall dare impugn?
    Now--ruins where she paused but would not stay,
    Old ravaged cities that, renouncing her,
    She called an endless curse on, so it came:
    Or worst of all, now--men you visit, men,
    Ignoblest troops who never heard her voice
    Or hate it, men without one gift from Rome
    Or Athens,--these shall Aureole's teachers be!
    Rejecting past example, practice, precept,
    Aidless 'mid these he thinks to stand alone:
    Thick like a glory round the Stagirite
    Your rivals throng, the sages: here stand you!
    Whatever you may protest, knowledge is not
    Paramount in your love; or for her sake
    You would collect all help from every source--
    Rival, assistant, friend, foe, all would merge
    In the broad class of those who showed her haunts,
    And those who showed them not.

    _Par._                       What shall I say?
    Festus, from childhood I have been possessed
    By a fire--by a true fire, or faint or fierce,
    As from without some master, so it seemed,
    Repressed or urged its current: this but ill
    Expresses what I would convey: but rather
    I will believe an angel ruled me thus,
    Than that my soul's own workings, own high nature,
    So became manifest. I knew not then
    What whispered in the evening, and spoke out
    At midnight. If some mortal, born too soon,
    Were laid away in some great trance--the ages
    Coming and going all the while--till dawned
    His true time's advent; and could then record
    The words they spoke who kept watch by his bed,--
    Then I might tell more of the breath so light
    Upon my eyelids, and the fingers light
    Among my hair. Youth is confused; yet never
    So dull was I but, when that spirit passed,
    I turned to him, scarce consciously, as turns
    A water-snake when fairies cross his sleep.
    And having this within me and about me
    While Einsiedeln, its mountains, lakes and woods
    Confined me--what oppressive joy was mine
    When life grew plain, and I first viewed the thronged,
    The everlasting concourse of mankind!
    Believe that ere I joined them, ere I knew
    The purpose of the pageant, or the place
    Consigned me in its ranks--while, just awake,
    Wonder was freshest and delight most pure--
    'T was then that least supportable appeared
    A station with the brightest of the crowd,
    A portion with the proudest of them all.
    And from the tumult in my breast, this only
    Could I collect, that I must thenceforth die
    Or elevate myself far, far above
    The gorgeous spectacle. I seemed to long
    At once to trample on, yet save mankind,
    To make some unexampled sacrifice
    In their behalf, to wring some wondrous good
    From heaven or earth for them, to perish, winning
    Eternal weal in the act: as who should dare
    Pluck out the angry thunder from its cloud,
    That, all its gathered flame discharged on him,
    No storm might threaten summer's azure sleep:
    Yet never to be mixed with men so much
    As to have part even in my own work, share
    In my own largess. Once the feat achieved,
    I would withdraw from their officious praise,
    Would gently put aside their profuse thanks.
    Like some knight traversing a wilderness,
    Who, on his way, may chance to free a tribe
    Of desert-people from their dragon-foe;
    When all the swarthy race press round to kiss
    His feet, and choose him for their king, and yield
    Their poor tents, pitched among the sand-hills, for
    His realm: and he points, smiling, to his scarf
    Heavy with riveled gold, his burgonet
    Gay set with twinkling stones--and to the East,
    Where these must be displayed!

    _Fest._                      Good: let us hear
    No more about your nature, "which first shrank
    From all that marked you out apart from men!"

    _Par._ I touch on that; these words but analyze
    The first mad impulse: 't was as brief as fond,
    For as I gazed again upon the show,
    I soon distinguished here and there a shape
    Palm-wreathed and radiant, forehead and full eye.
    Well pleased was I their state should thus at once
    Interpret my own thoughts:--"Behold the clue
    To all," I rashly said, "and what I pine
    To do, these have accomplished: we are peers.
    They know and therefore rule: I too, will know!"
    You were beside me, Festus, as you say;
    You saw me plunge in their pursuits whom fame
    Is lavish to attest the lords of mind,
    Not pausing to make sure the prize in view
    Would satiate my cravings when obtained,
    But since they strove I strove. Then came a slow
    And strangling failure. We aspired alike,
    Yet not the meanest plodder, Tritheim counts
    A marvel, but was all-sufficient, strong
    Or staggered only at his own vast wits;
    While I was restless, nothing satisfied,
    Distrustful, most perplexed. I would slur over
    That struggle; suffice it, that I loathed myself
    As weak compared with them, yet felt somehow
    A mighty power was brooding, taking shape
    Within me; and this lasted till one night
    When, as I sat revolving it and more,
    A still voice from without said--"Seest thou not,
    Desponding child, whence spring defeat and loss?
    Even from thy strength. Consider: hast thou gazed
    Presumptuously on wisdom's countenance,
    No veil between; and can thy faltering hands,
    Unguided by the brain the sight absorbs,
    Pursue their task as earnest blinkers do
    Whom radiance ne'er distracted? Live their life
    If thou wouldst share their fortune, choose their eyes
    Unfed by splendor. Let each task present
    Its petty good to thee. Waste not thy gifts
    In profitless waiting for the gods' descent,
    But have some idol of thine own to dress
    With their array. Know, not for knowing's sake,
    But to become a star to men forever;
    Know, for the gain it gets, the praise it brings,
    The wonder it inspires, the love it breeds:
    Look one step onward, and secure that step!"
    And I smiled as one never smiles but once,
    Then first discovering my own aim's extent,
    Which sought to comprehend the works of God,
    And God himself, and all God's intercourse
    With the human mind; I understood, no less,
    My fellows' studies, whose true worth I saw,
    But smiled not, well aware who stood by me.
    And softer came the voice--"There is a way:
    'T is hard for flesh to tread therein, imbued
    With frailty--hopeless, if indulgence first
    Have ripened inborn germs of sin to strength:
    Wilt thou adventure for my sake and man's,
    Apart from all reward?" And last it breathed--
    "Be happy, my good soldier; I am by thee,
    Be sure, even to the end!"--I answered not,
    Knowing him. As he spoke, I was endued
    With comprehension and a steadfast will;
    And when he ceased, my brow was sealed his own.
    If there took place no special change in me,
    How comes it all things wore a different hue
    Thenceforward?--pregnant with vast consequence,
    Teeming with grand result, loaded with fate?
    So that when, quailing at the mighty range
    Of secret truths which yearn for birth, I haste
    To contemplate undazzled some one truth,
    Its bearings and effects alone--at once
    What was a speck expands into a star,
    Asking a life to pass exploring thus,
    Till I near craze. I go to prove my soul!
    I see my way as birds their trackless way.
    I shall arrive! what time, what circuit first,
    I ask not: but unless God send his hail
    Or blinding fireballs, sleet or stifling snow,
    In some time, his good time, I shall arrive:
    He guides me and the bird. In his good time!

    _Mich._ Vex him no further, Festus; it is so!

    _Fest._ Just thus you help me ever. This would hold
    Were it the trackless air, and not a path
    Inviting you, distinct with footprints yet
    Of many a mighty marcher gone that way.
    You may have purer views than theirs, perhaps,
    But they were famous in their day--the proofs
    Remain. At least accept the light they lend.

    _Par._ Their light! the sum of all is briefly this:
    They labored and grew famous, and the fruits
    Are best seen in a dark and groaning earth
    Given over to a blind and endless strife
    With evils, what of all their lore abates?
    No; I reject and spurn them utterly
    And all they teach. Shall I still sit beside
    Their dry wells, with a white lip and filmed eye,
    While in the distance heaven is blue above
    Mountains where sleep the unsunned tarns?

    _Fest._                                And yet
    As strong delusions have prevailed ere now.
    Men have set out as gallantly to seek
    Their ruin. I have heard of such: yourself
    Avow all hitherto have failed and fallen.

    _Mich._ Nay, Festus, when but as the pilgrims faint
    Through the drear way, do you expect to see
    Their city dawn amid the clouds afar?

    _Par._ Ay, sounds it not like some old well-known tale?
    For me, I estimate their works and them
    So rightly, that at times I almost dream
    I too have spent a life the sages' way,
    And tread once more familiar paths. Perchance
    I perished in an arrogant self-reliance
    Ages ago; and in that act, a prayer
    For one more chance went up so earnest, so
    Instinct with better light let in by death,
    That life was blotted out--not so completely
    But scattered wrecks enough of it remain,
    Dim memories, as now, when once more seems
    The goal in sight again. All which, indeed,
    Is foolish, and only means--the flesh I wear,
    The earth I tread, are not more clear to me
    Than my belief, explained to you or no.

    _Fest._ And who am I, to challenge and dispute
    That clear belief? I will divest all fear.

    _Mich._ Then Aureole is God's commissary! he shall
    Be great and grand--and all for us!

    _Par._                           No, sweet!
    Not great and grand. If I can serve mankind
    'T is well; but there our intercourse must end:
    I never will be served by those I serve.

    _Fest._ Look well to this; here is a plague-spot, here,
    Disguise it how you may! 'T is true, you utter
    This scorn while by our side and loving us;
    'T is but a spot as yet: but it will break
    Into a hideous blotch if overlooked.
    How can that course be safe which from the first
    Produces carelessness to human love?
    It seems you have abjured the helps which men
    Who overpass their kind, as you would do,
    Have humbly sought; I dare not thoroughly probe
    This matter, lest I learn too much. Let be
    That popular praise would little instigate
    Your efforts, nor particular approval
    Reward you; put reward aside; alone
    You shall go forth upon your arduous task,
    None shall assist you, none partake your toil,
    None share your triumph: still you must retain
    Some one to cast your glory on, to share
    Your rapture with. Were I elect like you,
    I would encircle me with love, and raise
    A rampart of my fellows; it should seem
    Impossible for me to fail, so watched
    By gentle friends who made my cause their own.
    They should ward off fate's envy--the great gift,
    Extravagant when claimed by me alone,
    Being so a gift to them as well as me.
    If danger daunted me or ease seduced,
    How calmly their sad eyes should gaze reproach!

    _Mich._ O Aureole, can I sing when all alone,
    Without first calling, in my fancy, both
    To listen by my side--even I! And you?
    Do you not feel this? Say that you feel this!

    _Par._ I feel 't is pleasant that my aims, at length
    Allowed their weight, should be supposed to need
    A further strengthening in these goodly helps!
    My course allures for its own sake, its sole
    Intrinsic worth; and ne'er shall boat of mine
    Adventure forth for gold and apes at once.
    Your sages say, "if human, therefore weak:"
    If weak, more need to give myself entire
    To my pursuit; and by its side, all else...
    No matter! I deny myself but little
    In waiving all assistance save its own.
    Would there were some real sacrifice to make!
    Your friends the sages threw their joys away,
    While I must be content with keeping mine.

    _Fest._ But do not cut yourself from human weal!
    You cannot thrive--a man that dares effect
    To spend his life in service to his kind
    For no reward of theirs, unbound to them
    By any tie; nor do so, Aureole! No--
    There are strange punishments for such. Give up
    (Although no visible good flow thence) some part
    Of the glory to another; hiding thus,
    Even from yourself, that all is for yourself.
    Say, say almost to God--"I have done all
    For her, not for myself!"

    _Par._                And who but lately
    Was to rejoice in my success like you?
    Whom should I love but both of you?

    _Fest._                    I know not:
    But know this, you, that 't is no will of mine
    You should abjure the lofty claims you make;
    And this the cause--I can no longer seek
    To overlook the truth, that there would be
    A monstrous spectacle upon the earth,
    Beneath the pleasant sun, among the trees:
    --A being knowing not what love is. Hear me!
    You are endowed with faculties which bear
    Annexed to them as 't were a dispensation
    To summon meaner spirits to do their will
    And gather round them at their need; inspiring
    Such with a love themselves can never feel,
    Passionless 'mid their passionate votaries.
    I know not if you joy in this or no,
    Or ever dream that common men can live
    On objects you prize lightly, but which make
    Their heart's sole treasure: the affections seem
    Beauteous at most to you, which we must taste
    Or die: and this strange quality accords,
    I know not how, with you; sits well upon
    That luminous brow, though in another it scowls
    An eating brand, a shame. I dare not judge you.
    The rules of right and wrong thus set aside,
    There's no alternative--I own you one
    Of higher order, under other laws
    Than bind us; therefore, curb not one bold glance!
    'T is best aspire. Once mingled with us all...

    _Mich._ Stay with us, Aureole! cast those hopes away,
    And stay with us! An angel warns me, too,
    Man should be humble; you are very proud:
    And God, dethroned, has doleful plagues for such!
    --Warns me to have in dread no quick repulse,
    No slow defeat, but a complete success:
    You will find all you seek, and perish so!

    _Par._ (_after a pause_). Are these the barren first-fruits of my
    Is love like this the natural lot of all?
    How many years of pain might one such hour
    O'erbalance? Dearest Michal, dearest Festus,
    What shall I say, if not that I desire
    To justify your love; and will, dear friends,
    In swerving nothing from my first resolves.
    See, the great moon! and ere the mottled owls
    Were wide awake, I was to go. It seems
    You acquiesce at last in all save this--
    If I am like to compass what I seek
    By the untried career I choose; and then,
    If that career, making but small account
    Of much of life's delight, will yet retain
    Sufficient to sustain my soul: for thus
    I understand these fond fears just expressed.
    And first; the lore you praise and I neglect,
    The labors and the precepts of old time,
    I have not lightly disesteemed. But, friends,
    Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
    From outward things, whate'er you may believe.
    There is an inmost centre in us all,
    Where truth abides in fulness; and around,
    Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
    This perfect, clear perception--which is truth.
    A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
    Binds it, and makes all error: and, to KNOW,
    Rather consists in opening out a way
    Whence the imprisoned splendor may escape,
    Than in effecting entry for a light
    Supposed to be without. Watch narrowly
    The demonstration of a truth, its birth,
    And you trace back the effluence to its spring
    And source within us; where broods radiance vast,
    To be elicited ray by ray, as chance
    Shall favor: chance--for hitherto, your sage
    Even as he knows not how those beams are born,
    As little knows he what unlocks their fount:
    And men have oft grown old among their books
    To die case-hardened in their ignorance,
    Whose careless youth had promised what long years
    Of unremitted labor ne'er performed:
    While, contrary, it has chanced some idle day,
    To autumn loiterers just as fancy-free
    As the midges in the sun, gives birth at last
    To truth--produced mysteriously as cape
    Of cloud grown out of the invisible air.
    Hence, may not truth be lodged alike in all,
    The lowest as the highest? some slight film
    The interposing bar which binds a soul
    And makes the idiot, just as makes the sage
    Some film removed, the happy outlet whence
    Truth issues proudly? See this soul of ours!
    How it strives weakly in the child, is loosed
    In manhood, clogged by sickness, back compelled
    By age and waste, set free at last by death:
    Why is it, flesh enthralls it or enthrones?
    What is this flesh we have to penetrate?
    Oh, not alone when life flows still, do truth
    And power emerge, but also when strange chance
    Ruffles its current; in unused conjuncture,
    When sickness breaks the body--hunger, watching,
    Excess or languor--oftenest death's approach,
    Peril, deep joy or woe. One man shall crawl
    Through life surrounded with all stirring things,
    Unmoved; and he goes mad: and from the wreck
    Of what he was, by his wild talk alone,
    You first collect how great a spirit he hid.
    Therefore, set free the soul alike in all,
    Discovering the true laws by which the flesh
    Accloys the spirit! We may not be doomed
    To cope with seraphs, but at least the rest
    Shall cope with us. Make no more giants, God,
    But elevate the race at once! We ask
    To put forth just our strength, our human strength,
    All starting fairly, all equipped alike,
    Gifted alike, all eagle-eyed, true-hearted--
    See if we cannot beat thine angels yet!
    Such is my task. I go to gather this
    The sacred knowledge, here and there dispersed
    About the world, long lost or never found.
    And why should I be sad or lorn of hope?
    Why ever make man's good distinct from God's,
    Or, finding they are one, why dare mistrust?
    Who shall succeed if not one pledged like me?
    Mine is no mad attempt to build a world
    Apart from his, like those who set themselves
    To find the nature of the spirit they bore,
    And, taught betimes that all their gorgeous dreams
    Were only born to vanish in this life,
    Refused to fit them to its narrow sphere,
    But chose to figure forth another world
    And other frames meet for their vast desires,--
    And all a dream! Thus was life scorned; but life
    Shall yet be crowned: twine amaranth! I am priest!
    And all for yielding with a lively spirit
    A poor existence, parting with a youth
    Like those who squander every energy
    Convertible to good, on painted toys,
    Breath-bubbles, gilded dust! And though I spurn
    All adventitious aims, from empty praise
    To love's award, yet whoso deems such helps
    Important, and concerns himself for me,
    May know even these will follow with the rest--
    As in the steady rolling Mayne, asleep
    Yonder, is mixed its mass of schistous ore.
    My own affections, laid to rest awhile,
    Will waken purified, subdued alone
    By all I have achieved. Till then--till then ...
    Ah, the time-wiling loitering of a page
    Through bower and over lawn, till eve shall bring
    The stately lady's presence whom he loves--
    The broken sleep of the fisher whose rough coat
    Enwraps the queenly pearl--these are faint types!
    See, see, they look on me: I triumph now!
    But one thing, Festus, Michal! I have told
    All I shall e'er disclose to mortal: say--
    Do you believe I shall accomplish this?

    _Fest._ I do believe!

    _Mich._               I ever did believe!

    _Par._ Those words shall never fade from out my brain!
    This earnest of the end shall never fade!
    Are there not, Festus, are there not, dear Michal,
    Two points in the adventure of the diver,
    One--when, a beggar, he prepares to plunge,
    One--when, a prince, he rises with his pearl?
    Festus, I plunge!

    _Fest._        We wait you when you rise!


    SCENE, _Constantinople: the house of a Greek conjurer_.


    Over the waters in the vaporous West
    The sun goes down as in a sphere of gold
    Behind the arm of the city, which between,
    With all that length of domes and minarets,
    Athwart the splendor, black and crooked runs
    Like a Turk verse along a scimitar.
    There lie, sullen memorial, and no more
    Possess my aching sight! 'T is done at last.
    Strange--and the juggles of a sallow cheat
    Have won me to this act! 'T is as yon cloud
    Should voyage unwrecked o'er many a mountain-top
    And break upon a molehill. I have dared
    Come to a pause with knowledge; scan for once
    The heights already reached, without regard
    To the extent above; fairly compute
    All I have clearly gained; for once excluding
    A brilliant future to supply and perfect
    All half-gains and conjectures and crude hopes:
    And all because a fortune-teller wills
    His credulous seekers should inscribe thus much
    Their previous life's attainment, in his roll,
    Before his promised secret, as he vaunts,
    Make up the sum: and here, amid the scrawled
    Uncouth recordings of the dupes of this
    Old arch-genethliac, lie my life's results!

    A few blurred characters suffice to note
    A stranger wandered long through many lands
    And reaped the fruit he coveted in a few
    Discoveries, as appended here and there,
    The fragmentary produce of much toil,
    In a dim heap, fact and surmise together
    Confusedly massed as when acquired; he was
    Intent on gain to come too much to stay
    And scrutinize the little gained: the whole
    Slipt in the blank space 'twixt an idiot's gibber
    And a mad lover's ditty--there it lies.

    And yet those blottings chronicle a life--
    A whole life, and my life! Nothing to do,
    No problem for the fancy, but a life
    Spent and decided, wasted past retrieve
    Or worthy beyond peer. Stay, what does this
    Remembrancer set down concerning "life"?
    "'Time fleets, youth fades, life is an empty dream,'
    It is the echo of time; and he whose heart
    Beat first beneath a human heart, whose speech
    Was copied from a human tongue, can never
    Recall when he was living yet knew not this.
    Nevertheless long seasons pass o'er him
    Till some one hour's experience shows what nothing,
    It seemed, could clearer show; and ever after,
    An altered brow and eye and gait and speech
    Attest that now he knows the adage true,
    'Time fleets, youth fades, life is an empty dream.'"

    Ay, my brave chronicler, and this same hour
    As well as any: now, let my time be!

    Now! I can go no farther; well or ill,
    'T is done. I must desist and take my chance.
    I cannot keep on the stretch: 't is no back-shrinking--
    For let but some assurance beam, some close
    To my toil grow visible, and I proceed
    At any price, though closing it, I die.
    Else, here I pause. The old Greek's prophecy
    Is like to turn out true: "I shall not quit
    His chamber till I know what I desire!"
    Was it the light wind sang it o'er the sea?

    An end, a rest! strange how the notion, once
    Encountered, gathers strength by moments! Rest!
    Where has it kept so long? this throbbing brow
    To cease, this beating heart to cease, all cruel
    And gnawing thoughts to cease! To dare let down
    My strung, so high-strung brain, to dare unnerve
    My harassed o'ertasked frame, to know my place,
    My portion, my reward, even my failure,
    Assigned, made sure forever! To lose myself
    Among the common creatures of the world,
    To draw some gain from having been a man,
    Neither to hope nor fear, to live at length!
    Even in failure, rest! But rest in truth
    And power and recompense ... I hoped that once!

    What, sunk insensibly so deep? Has all
    Been undergone for this? This the request
    My labor qualified me to present
    With no fear of refusal? Had I gone
    Slightingly through my task, and so judged fit
    To moderate my hopes; nay, were it now
    My sole concern to exculpate myself,
    End things or mend them,--why, I could not choose
    A humbler mood to wait for the event!
    No, no, there needs not this; no, after all,
    At worst I have performed my share of the task:
    The rest is God's concern; mine, merely this,
    To know that I have obstinately held
    By my own work. The mortal whose brave foot
    Has trod, unscathed, the temple-court so far
    That he descries at length the shrine of shrines,
    Must let no sneering of the demons' eyes,
    Whom he could pass unquailing, fasten now
    Upon him, fairly past their power; no, no--
    He must not stagger, faint, fall down at last,
    Having a charm to baffle them; behold,
    He bares his front: a mortal ventures thus
    Serene amid the echoes, beams and glooms!
    If he be priest henceforth, if he wake up
    The god of the place to ban and blast him there,
    Both well! What's failure or success to me?
    I have subdued my life to the one purpose
    Whereto I ordained it; there alone I spy,
    No doubt, that way I may be satisfied.

    Yes, well have I subdued my life! beyond
    The obligation of my strictest vow,
    The contemplation of my wildest bond,
    Which gave my nature freely up, in truth,
    But in its actual state, consenting fully
    All passionate impulses its soil was formed
    To rear, should wither; but foreseeing not
    The tract, doomed to perpetual barrenness,
    Would seem one day, remembered as it was,
    Beside the parched sand-waste which now it is,
    Already strewn with faint blooms, viewless then.
    I ne'er engaged to root up loves so frail
    I felt them not; yet now, 't is very plain
    Some soft spots had their birth in me at first,
    If not love, say, like love: there was a time
    When yet this wolfish hunger after knowledge
    Set not remorselessly love's claims aside.
    This heart was human once, or why recall
    Einsiedeln, now, and Würzburg which the Mayne
    Forsakes her course to fold as with an arm?

    And Festus--my poor Festus, with his praise
    And counsel and grave fears--where is he now
    With the sweet maiden, long ago his bride?
    I surely loved them--that last night, at least,
    When we ... gone! gone! the better. I am saved
    The sad review of an ambitious youth
    Choked by vile lusts, unnoticed in their birth,
    But let grow up and wind around a will
    Till action was destroyed. No, I have gone
    Purging my path successively of aught
    Wearing the distinct likeness of such lusts.
    I have made life consist of one idea:
    Ere that was master, up till that was born,
    I bear a memory of a pleasant life
    Whose small events I treasure; till one morn
    I ran o'er the seven little grassy fields,
    Startling the flocks of nameless birds, to tell
    Poor Festus, leaping all the while for joy,
    To leave all trouble for my future plans,
    Since I had just determined to become
    The greatest and most glorious man on earth.
    And since that morn all life has been forgotten:
    All is one day, one only step between
    The outset and the end: one tyrant all-
    Absorbing aim fills up the interspace,
    One vast unbroken chain of thought, kept up
    Through a career apparently adverse
    To its existence: life, death, light and shadow,
    The shows of the world, were bare receptacles
    Or indices of truth to be wrung thence,
    Not ministers of sorrow or delight:
    A wondrous natural robe in which she went.
    For some one truth would dimly beacon me
    From mountains rough with pines, and flit and wink
    O'er dazzling wastes of frozen snow, and tremble
    Into assured light in some branching mine
    Where ripens, swathed in fire, the liquid gold--
    And all the beauty, all the wonder fell
    On either side the truth, as its mere robe;
    I see the robe now--then I saw the form.
    So far, then, I have voyaged with success,
    So much is good, then, in this working sea
    Which parts me from that happy strip of land:
    But o'er that happy strip a sun shone, too!
    And fainter gleams it as the waves grow rough,
    And still more faint as the sea widens; last
    I sicken on a dead gulf streaked with light
    From its own putrefying depths alone.
    Then, God was pledged to take me by the hand;
    Now, any miserable juggle can bid
    My pride depart. All is alike at length:
    God may take pleasure in confounding pride
    By hiding secrets with the scorned and base--
    I am here, in short: so little have I paused
    Throughout! I never glanced behind to know
    If I had kept my primal light from wane,
    And thus insensibly am--what I am!

    Oh, bitter; very bitter!
                             And more bitter,
    To fear a deeper curse, an inner ruin,
    Plague beneath plague, the last turning the first
    To light beside its darkness. Let me weep
    My youth and its brave hopes, all dead and gone,
    In tears which burn! Would I were sure to win
    Some startling secret in their stead, a tincture
    Of force to flush old age with youth, or breed
    Gold, or imprison moonbeams till they change
    To opal shafts!--only that, hurling it
    Indignant back, I might convince myself
    My aims remained supreme and pure as ever!
    Even now, why not desire, for mankind's sake,
    That if I fail, some fault may be the cause,
    That, though I sink, another may succeed?
    O God, the despicable heart of us!
    Shut out this hideous mockery from my heart!

    'T was politic in you, Aureole, to reject
    Single rewards, and ask them in the lump;
    At all events, once launched, to hold straight on:
    For now 't is all or nothing. Mighty profit
    Your gains will bring if they stop short of such
    Full consummation! As a man, you had
    A certain share of strength; and that is gone
    Already in the getting these you boast.
    Do not they seem to laugh, as who should say--
    "Great master, we are here indeed, dragged forth
    To light; this hast thou done: be glad! Now, seek
    The strength to use which thou hast spent in getting!"

    And yet 't is much, surely 't is very much,
    Thus to have emptied youth of all its gifts,
    To feed a fire meant to hold out till morn
    Arrived with inexhaustible light; and lo,
    I have heaped up my last, and day dawns not!
    And I am left with gray hair, faded hands,
    And furrowed brow. Ha, have I, after all,
    Mistaken the wild nursling of my breast?
    Knowledge it seemed, and power, and recompense!
    Was she who glided through my room of nights,
    Who laid my head on her soft knees and smoothed
    The damp locks,--whose sly soothings just began
    When my sick spirit craved repose awhile--
    God! was I fighting sleep off for death's sake?

    God! Thou art mind! Unto the master-mind
    Mind should be precious. Spare my mind alone!
    All else I will endure; if, as I stand
    Here, with my gains, thy thunder smite me down,
    I bow me; 't is thy will, thy righteous will;
    I o'erpass life's restrictions, and I die;
    And if no trace of my career remain
    Save a thin corpse at pleasure of the wind
    In these bright chambers level with the air,
    See thou to it! But if my spirit fail,
    My once proud spirit forsake me at the last,
    Hast thou done well by me? So do not thou!
    Crush not my mind, dear God, though I be crushed!
    Hold me before the frequence of thy seraphs
    And say,--"I crushed him, lest he should disturb
    My law. Men must not know their strength: behold,
    Weak and alone, how he had raised himself!"

    But if delusions trouble me, and thou,
    Not seldom felt with rapture in thy help
    Throughout my toils and wanderings, dost intend
    To work man's welfare through my weak endeavor,
    To crown my mortal forehead with a beam
    From thine own blinding crown, to smile, and guide
    This puny hand and let the work so wrought
    Be styled my work,--hear me! I covet not
    An influx of new power, an angel's soul:
    It were no marvel then--but I have reached
    Thus far, a man; let me conclude, a man!
    Give but one hour of my first energy,
    Of that invincible faith, but only one!
    That I may cover with an eagle-glance
    The truths I have, and spy some certain way
    To mould them, and completing them, possess!

    Yet God is good: I started sure of that,
    And why dispute it now? I'll not believe
    But some undoubted warning long ere this
    Had reached me: a fire-labarum was not deemed
    Too much for the old founder of these walls.
    Then, if my life has not been natural,
    It has been monstrous: yet, till late, my course
    So ardently engrossed me, that delight,
    A pausing and reflecting joy, 't is plain,
    Could find no place in it. True, I am worn;
    But who clothes summer, who is life itself?
    God, that created all things, can renew!
    And then, though after-life to please me now
    Must have no likeness to the past, what hinders
    Reward from springing out of toil, as changed
    As bursts the flower from earth and root and stalk?
    What use were punishment, unless some sin
    Be first detected? let me know that first!
    No man could ever offend as I have done ...

                 (_A voice from within_.)

      I hear a voice, perchance I heard
      Long ago, but all too low,
      So that scarce a care it stirred
      If the voice were real or no:
      I heard it in my youth when first
      The waters of my life outburst:
      But, now their stream ebbs faint, I hear
      That voice, still low, but fatal-clear--
      As if all poets, God ever meant
      Should save the world, and therefore lent
      Great gifts to, but who, proud, refused
      To do his work, or lightly used
      Those gifts, or failed through weak endeavor,
      So, mourn cast off by him forever,--
      As if these leaned in airy ring
      To take me; this the song they sing.

      "Lost, lost! yet come,
      With our wan troop make thy home.
      Come, come! for we
      Will not breathe, so much as breathe
      Reproach to thee,
      Knowing what thou sink'st beneath.
      So sank we in those old years,
      We who bid thee, come! thou last
      Who, living yet, hast life o'erpast.
      And altogether we, thy peers,
      Will pardon crave for thee, the last
      Whose trial is done, whose lot is cast
      With those who watch but work no more,
      Who gaze on life but live no more.
      Yet we trusted thou shouldst speak
      The message which our lips, too weak,
      Refused to utter,--shouldst redeem
      Our fault: such trust, and all a dream!
      Yet we chose thee a birthplace
      Where the richness ran to flowers:
      Couldst not sing one song for grace?
      Not make one blossom man's and ours?
      Must one more recreant to his race
      Die with unexerted powers,
      And join us, leaving as he found
      The world, he was to loosen, bound?
      Anguish! ever and forever;
      Still beginning, ending never!
      Yet, lost and last one, come!
      How couldst understand, alas,
      What our pale ghosts strove to say,
      As their shades did glance and pass
      Before thee night and day?
      Thou wast blind as we were dumb:
      Once more, therefore, come, O come!
      How should we clothe, how arm the spirit
      Shall next thy post of life inherit--
      How guard him from thy speedy ruin?
      Tell us of thy sad undoing
      Here, where we sit, ever pursuing
      Our weary task, ever renewing
      Sharp sorrow, far from God who gave
      Our powers, and man they could not save!"

                     (APRILE _enters_.)

    Ha, ha! our king that wouldst be, here at last?
    Art thou the poet who shall save the world?
    Thy hand to mine! Stay, fix thine eyes on mine!
    Thou wouldst be king? Still fix thine eyes on mine!

    _Par._ Ha, ha! why crouchest not? Am I not king?
    So torture is not wholly unavailing!
    Have my fierce spasms compelled thee from thy lair?
    Art thou the sage I only seemed to be,
    Myself of after-time, my very self
    With sight a little clearer, strength more firm,
    Who robes him in my robe and grasps my crown
    For just a fault, a weakness, a neglect?
    I scarcely trusted God with the surmise
    That such might come, and thou didst hear the while!

    _Aprile._ Thine eyes are lustreless to mine: my hair
    Is soft, nay silken soft: to talk with thee
    Flushes my cheek, and thou art ashy-pale.
    Truly, thou hast labored, hast withstood her lips,
    The siren's! Yes, 't is like thou hast attained!
    Tell me, dear master, wherefore now thou comest?
    I thought thy solemn songs would have their meed
    In after-time; that I should hear the earth
    Exult in thee and echo with thy praise,
    While I was laid forgotten in my grave.

    _Par._ Ah fiend, I know thee, I am not thy dupe!
    Thou art ordained to follow in my track,
    Reaping my sowing, as I scorned to reap
    The harvest sown by sages passed away.
    Thou art the sober searcher, cautious striver,
    As if, except through me, thou hast searched or striven!
    Ay, tell the world! Degrade me after all,
    To an aspirant after fame, not truth--
    To all but envy of thy fate, be sure!

    _Apr._ Nay, sing them to me; I shall envy not:
    Thou shalt be king! Sing thou, and I will sit
    Beside, and call deep silence for thy songs,
    And worship thee, as I had ne'er been meant
    To fill thy throne: but none shall ever know!
    Sing to me; for already thy wild eyes
    Unlock my heart-strings, as some crystal-shaft
    Reveals by some chance blaze its parent fount
    After long time: so thou reveal'st my soul.
    All will flash forth at last, with thee to hear!

    _Par._ (His secret! I shall get his secret--fool!)
    I am he that aspired to KNOW: and thou?

    _Apr._ I would LOVE infinitely, and be loved!

    _Par._ Poor slave! I am thy king indeed.

    _Apr._                     Thou deem'st
    That--born a spirit, dowered even as thou,
    Born for thy fate--because I could not curb
    My yearnings to possess at once the full
    Enjoyment, but neglected all the means
    Of realizing even the frailest joy,
    Gathering no fragments to appease my want,
    Yet nursing up that want till thus I die--
    Thou deem'st I cannot trace thy safe sure march
    O'er perils that o'erwhelm me, triumphing,
    Neglecting naught below for aught above,
    Despising nothing and ensuring all--
    Nor that I could (my time to come again)
    Lead thus my spirit securely as thine own.
    Listen, and thou shalt see I know thee well.
    I would love infinitely ...

                                Ah, lost! lost!
        Oh ye who armed me at such cost,
        How shall I look on all of ye
        With your gifts even yet on me?

    _Par._ (Ah, 't is some moonstruck creature after all!
    Such fond fools as are like to haunt this den:
    They spread contagion, doubtless: yet he seemed
    To echo one foreboding of my heart
    So truly, that ... no matter! How he stands
    With eve's last sunbeam staying on his hair
    Which turns to it as if they were akin:
    And those clear smiling eyes of saddest blue
    Nearly set free, so far they rise above
    The painful fruitless striving of the brow
    And enforced knowledge of the lips, firm-set
    In slow despondency's eternal sigh!
    Has he, too, missed life's end, and learned the cause?)
    I charge thee, by thy fealty, be calm!
    Tell me what thou wouldst be, and what I am.

    _Apr._ I would love infinitely, and be loved.
    First: I would carve in stone, or cast in brass,
    The forms of earth. No ancient hunter lifted
    Up to the gods by his renown, no nymph
    Supposed the sweet soul of a woodland tree
    Or sapphirine spirit of a twilight star,
    Should be too hard for me; no shepherd-king
    Regal for his white locks; no youth who stands
    Silent and very calm amid the throng,
    His right hand ever hid beneath his robe
    Until the tyrant pass; no lawgiver,
    No swan-soft woman rubbed with lucid oils
    Given by a god for love of her--too hard!
    Every passion sprung from man, conceived by man,
    Would I express and clothe it in its right form,
    Or blend with others struggling in one form,
    Or show repressed by an ungainly form.
    Oh, if you marvelled at some mighty spirit
    With a fit frame to execute its will--
    Even unconsciously to work its will--
    You should be moved no less beside some strong
    Rare spirit, fettered to a stubborn body,
    Endeavoring to subdue it and inform it
    With its own splendor! All this I would do:
    And I would say, this done, "His sprites created,
    God grants to each a sphere to be its world,
    Appointed with the various objects needed
    To satisfy its own peculiar want;
    So, I create a world for these my shapes
    Fit to sustain their beauty and their strength!"
    And, at the word, I would contrive and paint
    Woods, valleys, rocks and plains, dells, sands and wastes,
    Lakes which, when morn breaks on their quivering bed,
    Blaze like a wyvern flying round the sun,
    And ocean isles so small, the dog-fish tracking
    A dead whale, who should find them, would swim thrice
    Around them, and fare onward--all to hold
    The offspring of my brain. Nor these alone:
    Bronze labyrinth, palace, pyramid and crypt,
    Baths, galleries, courts, temples and terraces,
    Marts, theatres, and wharfs--all filled with men,
    Men everywhere! And this performed in turn,
    When those who looked on, pined to hear the hopes
    And fears and hates and loves which moved the crowd,
    I would throw down the pencil as the chisel,
    And I would speak; no thought which ever stirred
    A human breast should be untold; all passions,
    All soft emotions, from the turbulent stir
    Within a heart fed with desires like mine,
    To the last comfort shutting the tired lids
    Of him who sleeps the sultry noon away
    Beneath the tent-tree by the wayside well:
    And this in language as the need should be,
    Now poured at once forth in a burning flow,
    Now piled up in a grand array of words.
    This done, to perfect and consummate all,
    Even as a luminous haze links star to star,
    I would supply all chasms with music, breathing
    Mysterious motions of the soul, no way
    To be defined save in strange melodies.
    Last, having thus revealed all I could love,
    Having received all love bestowed on it,
    I would die: preserving so throughout my course
    God full on me, as I was full on men:
    He would approve my prayer, "I have gone through
    The loveliness of life; create for me
    If not for men, or take me to thyself,
    Eternal, infinite love!"
                              If thou hast ne'er
    Conceived this mighty aim, this full desire,
    Thou hast not passed my trial, and thou art
    No king of mine.

    _Par._      Ah me!

    _Apr._              But thou art here!
    Thou didst not gaze like me upon that end
    Till thine own powers for compassing the bliss
    Were blind with glory; nor grow mad to grasp
    At once the prize long patient toil should claim,
    Nor spurn all granted short of that. And I
    Would do as thou, a second time: nay, listen!
    Knowing ourselves, our world, our task so great,
    Our time so brief, 't is clear if we refuse
    The means so limited, the tools so rude
    To execute our purpose, life will fleet,
    And we shall fade, and leave our task undone.
    We will be wise in time: what though our work
    Be fashioned in despite of their ill-service,
    Be crippled every way? 'T were little praise
    Did full resources wait on our goodwill
    At every turn. Let all be as it is.
    Some say the earth is even so contrived
    That tree and flower, a vesture gay, conceal
    A bare and skeleton framework. Had we means
    Answering to our mind! But now I seem
    Wrecked on a savage isle: how rear thereon
    My palace? Branching palms the props shall be,
    Fruit glossy mingling; gems are for the East;
    Who heeds them? I can pass them. Serpents' scales,
    And painted birds' down, furs and fishes' skins
    Must help me; and a little here and there
    Is all I can aspire to: still my art
    Shall show its birth was in a gentler clime.
    "Had I green jars of malachite, this way
    I'd range them: where those sea-shells glisten above,
    Cressets should hang, by right: this way we set
    The purple carpets, as these mats are laid,
    Woven of fern and rush and blossoming flag."
    Or if, by fortune, some completer grace
    Be spared to me, some fragment, some slight sample
    Of the prouder workmanship my own home boasts,
    Some trifle little heeded there, but here
    The place's one perfection--with what joy
    Would I enshrine the relic, cheerfully
    Foregoing all the marvels out of reach!
    Could I retain one strain of all the psalm
    Of the angels, one word of the fiat of God,
    To let my followers know what such things are!
    I would adventure nobly for their sakes:
    When nights were still, and still the moaning sea,
    And far away I could descry the land
    Whence I departed, whither I return,
    I would dispart the waves, and stand once more
    At home, and load my bark, and hasten back,
    And fling my gains to them, worthless or true.
    "Friends," I would say, "I went far, far for them,
    Past the high rocks the haunt of doves, the mounds
    Of red earth from whose sides strange trees grow out,
    Past tracts of milk-white minute blinding sand,
    Till, by a mighty moon, I tremblingly
    Gathered these magic herbs, berry and bud,
    In haste, not pausing to reject the weeds,
    But happy plucking them at any price.
    To me, who have seen them bloom in their own soil,
    They are scarce lovely: plait and wear them, you!
    And guess, from what they are, the springs that fed them,
    The stars that sparkled o'er them, night by night,
    The snakes that travelled far to sip their dew!"
    Thus for my higher loves; and thus even weakness
    Would win me honor. But not these alone
    Should claim my care; for common life, its wants
    And ways, would I set forth in beauteous hues:
    The lowest hind should not possess a hope,
    A fear, but I'd be by him, saying better
    Than he his own heart's language. I would live
    Forever in the thoughts I thus explored,
    As a discoverer's memory is attached
    To all he finds; they should be mine henceforth,
    Imbued with me, though free to all before:
    For clay, once cast into my soul's rich mine,
    Should come up crusted o'er with gems. Nor this
    Would need a meaner spirit than the first;
    Nay, 't would be but the selfsame spirit, clothed
    In humbler guise, but still the selfsame spirit:
    As one spring wind unbinds the mountain snow
    And comforts violets in their hermitage.

    But, master, poet, who hast done all this,
    How didst thou 'scape the ruin whelming me?
    Didst thou, when nerving thee to this attempt,
    Ne'er range thy mind's extent, as some wide hall,
    Dazzled by shapes that filled its length with light,
    Shapes clustered there to rule thee, not obey,
    That will not wait thy summons, will not rise
    Singly, nor when thy practised eye and hand
    Can well transfer their loveliness, but crowd
    By thee forever, bright to thy despair?
    Didst thou ne'er gaze on each by turns, and ne'er
    Resolve to single out one, though the rest
    Should vanish, and to give that one, entire
    In beauty, to the world; forgetting, so,
    Its peers, whose number baffles mortal power?
    And, this determined, wast thou ne'er seduced
    By memories and regrets and passionate love,
    To glance once more farewell? and did their eyes
    Fasten thee, brighter and more bright, until
    Thou couldst but stagger back unto their feet,
    And laugh that man's applause or welfare ever
    Could tempt thee to forsake them? Or when years
    Had passed and still their love possessed thee wholly,
    When from without some murmur startled thee
    Of darkling mortals famished for one ray
    Of thy so-hoarded luxury of light,
    Didst thou ne'er strive even yet to break those spells
    And prove thou couldst recover and fulfil
    Thy early mission, long ago renounced,
    And to that end, select some shape once more?
    And did not mist-like influences, thick films,
    Faint memories of the rest that charmed so long
    Thine eyes, float fast, confuse thee, bear thee off,
    As whirling snow-drifts blind a man who treads
    A mountain ridge, with guiding spear, through storm?
    Say, though I fell, I had excuse to fall;
    Say, I was tempted sorely: say but this,
    Dear lord, Aprile's lord!

    _Par._                    Clasp me not thus,
    Aprile! That the truth should reach me thus!
    We are weak dust. Nay, clasp not or I faint!

    _Apr._ My king! and envious thoughts could outrage thee?
    Lo, I forget my ruin, and rejoice
    In thy success, as thou! Let our God's praise
    Go bravely through the world at last! What care
    Through me or thee? I feel thy breath. Why, tears?
    Tears in the darkness, and from thee to me?

    _Par._ Love me henceforth, Aprile, while I learn
    To love; and, merciful God, forgive us both!
    We wake at length from weary dreams; but both
    Have slept in fairy-land: though dark and drear
    Appears the world before us, we no less
    Wake with our wrists and ankles jewelled still.
    I too have sought to KNOW as thou to LOVE--
    Excluding love as thou refusedst knowledge.
    Still thou hast beauty and I, power. We wake:
    What penance canst devise for both of us?

    _Apr._ I hear thee faintly. The thick darkness! Even
    Thine eyes are hid, 'T is as I knew: I speak,
    And now I die. But I have seen thy face!
    O poet, think of me, and sing of me!
    But to have seen thee and to die so soon!

    _Par._ Die not, Aprile! We must never part.
    Are we not halves of one dissevered world,
    Whom this strange chance unites once more? Part? never!
    Till thou the lover, know; and I, the knower,
    Love--until both are saved. Aprile, hear!
    We will accept our gains, and use them--now!
    God, he will die upon my breast! Aprile!

    _Apr._ To speak but once, and die! yet by his side.
    Hush! hush!
                Ha! go you ever girt about
    With phantoms, powers? I have created such,
    But these seem real as I.

    _Par._                    Whom can you see
    Through the accursed darkness?

    _Apr._                         Stay; I know,
    I know them: who should know them well as I?
    White brows, lit up with glory; poets all!

    _Par._ Let him but live, and I have my reward!

    _Apr._ Yes; I see now. God is the perfect poet,
    Who in his person acts his own creations.
    Had you but told me this at first! Hush! hush!

    _Par._ Live! for my sake, because of my great sin,
    To help my brain, oppressed by these wild words
    And their deep import. Live! 't is not too late.
    I have a quiet home for us, and friends.
    Michal shall smile on you. Hear you? Lean thus,
    And breathe my breath. I shall not lose one word
    Of all your speech, one little word, Aprile!

    _Apr._ No, no. Crown me? I am not one of you!
    'T is he, the king, you seek. I am not one.

    _Par._ Thy spirit, at least, Aprile! Let me love.

    I have attained, and now I may depart.


    SCENE, _Basel: a chamber in the house of_ PARACELSUS.


    _Par._ Heap logs and let the blaze laugh out!

    _Fest._                                       True, true!
    'T is very fit all, time and chance and change
    Have wrought since last we sat thus, face to face
    And soul to soul--all cares, far-looking fears,
    Vague apprehensions, all vain fancies bred
    By your long absence, should be cast away,
    Forgotten in this glad unhoped renewal
    Of our affections.

    _Par._             Oh, omit not aught
    Which witnesses your own and Michal's own
    Affection: spare not that! Only forget
    The honors and the glories and what not,
    It pleases you to tell profusely out.

    _Fest._ Nay, even your honors, in a sense, I waive:
    The wondrous Paracelsus, life's dispenser,
    Fate's commissary, idol of the schools
    And courts, shall be no more than Aureole still,
    Still Aureole and my friend as when we parted
    Some twenty years ago, and I restrained
    As best I could the promptings of my spirit
    Which secretly advanced you, from the first,
    To the pre-eminent rank which, since, your own
    Adventurous ardor nobly triumphing,
    Has won for you.

    _Par._           Yes, yes. And Michal's face
    Still wears that quiet and peculiar light
    Like the dim circlet floating round a pearl?

    _Fest._ Just so.

    _Par._ And yet her calm sweet countenance,
    Though saintly, was not sad; for she would sing
    Alone. Does she still sing alone, bird-like,
    Not dreaming you are near? Her carols dropt
    In flakes through that old leafy bower built under
    The sunny wall at Würzburg, from her lattice
    Among the trees above, while I, unseen,
    Sat conning some rare scroll from Tritheim's shelves,
    Much wondering notes so simple could divert
    My mind from study. Those were happy days.
    Respect all such as sing when all alone!

    _Fest._ Scarcely alone: her children, yon may guess,
    Are wild beside her.

    _Par._               Ah, those children quite
    Unsettle the pure picture in my mind:
    A girl, she was so perfect, so distinct:
    No change, no change! Not but this added grace
    May blend and harmonize with its compeers,
    And Michal may become her motherhood;
    But 't is a change, and I detest all change,
    And most a change in aught I loved long since.
    So, Michal--you have said she thinks of me?

    _Fest._ O very proud will Michal be of you!
    Imagine how we sat, long winter-nights,
    Scheming and wondering, shaping your presumed
    Adventure, or devising its reward;
    Shutting out fear with all the strength of hope.
    For it was strange how, even when most secure
    In our domestic peace, a certain dim
    And flitting shade could sadden all; it seemed
    A restlessness of heart, a silent yearning,
    A sense of something wanting, incomplete--
    Not to be put in words, perhaps avoided
    By mute consent--but, said or unsaid, felt
    To point to one so loved and so long lost.
    And then the hopes rose and shut out the fears--
    How you would laugh should I recount them now!
    I still predicted your return at last
    With gifts beyond the greatest of them all,
    All Tritheim's wondrous troop; did one of which
    Attain renown by any chance, I smiled,
    As well aware of who would prove his peer.
    Michal was sure some woman, long ere this,
    As beautiful as you were sage, had loved ...

    _Par._ Far-seeing, truly, to discern so much
    In the fantastic projects and day-dreams
    Of a raw restless boy!

    _Fest._                Oh, no: the sunrise
    Well warranted our faith in this full noon!
    Can I forget the anxious voice which said,
    "Festus, have thoughts like these e'er shaped themselves
    In other brains than mine? have their possessors
    Existed in like circumstance? were they weak
    As I, or ever constant from the first,
    Despising youth's allurements and rejecting
    As spider-films the shackles I endure?
    Is there hope for me?"--and I answered gravely
    As an acknowledged elder, calmer, wiser,
    More gifted mortal. O you must remember,
    For all your glorious ...

    _Par._                    Glorious? ay, this hair,
    These hands--nay, touch them, they are mine! Recall
    With all the said recallings, times when thus
    To lay them by your own ne'er turned you pale
    As now. Most glorious, are they not?

    _Fest._                              Why--why--
    Something must be subtracted from success
    So wide, no doubt. He would be scrupulous, truly,
    Who should object such drawbacks. Still, still, Aureole,
    You are changed, very changed! 'T were losing nothing
    To look well to it: you must not be stolen
    From the enjoyment of your well-won meed.

    _Par._ My friend! you seek my pleasure, past a doubt:
    You will best gain your point, by talking, not
    Of me, but of yourself.

    _Fest._                 Have I not said
    All touching Michal and my children? Sure
    You know, by this, full well how Aennchen looks
    Gravely, while one disparts her thick brown hair;
    And Aureole's glee when some stray gannet builds
    Amid the birch-trees by the lake. Small hope
    Have I that he will honor (the wild imp)
    His namesake. Sigh not! 't is too much to ask
    That all we love should reach the same proud fate.
    But you are very kind to humor me
    By showing interest in my quiet life;
    You, who of old could never tame yourself
    To tranquil pleasures, must at heart despise.

    _Par._ Festus, strange secrets are let out by death
    Who blabs so oft the follies of this world:
    And I am death's familiar, as you know.
    I helped a man to die, some few weeks since,
    Warped even from his go-cart to one end--
    The living on princes' smiles, reflected from
    A mighty herd of favorites. No mean trick
    He left untried, and truly well-nigh wormed
    All traces of God's finger out of him:
    Then died, grown old. And just an hour before,
    Having lain long with blank and soulless eyes,
    He sat up suddenly, and with natural voice
    Said that in spite of thick air and closed doors
    God told him it was June; and he knew well,
    Without such telling, harebells grew in June;
    And all that kings could ever give or take
    Would not be precious as those blooms to him.
    Just so, allowing I am passing sage,
    It seems to me much worthier argument
    Why pansies,[2] eyes that laugh, bear beauty's prize
    From violets, eyes that dream--(your Michal's choice)--
    Than all fools find to wonder at in me
    Or in my fortunes. And be very sure
    I say this from no prurient restlessness,
    No self-complacency, itching to turn,
    Vary and view its pleasure from all points,
    And, in this instance, willing other men
    May be at pains, demonstrate to itself
    The realness of the very joy it tastes.
    What should delight me like the news of friends
    Whose memories were a solace to me oft,
    As mountain-baths to wild fowls in their flight?
    Ofter than you had wasted thought on me
    Had you been wise, and rightly valued bliss.
    But there's no taming nor repressing hearts:
    God knows I need such!--So, you heard me speak?

    _Fest._ Speak? when?

    _Par._               When but this morning at my class?
    There was noise and crowd enough. I saw you not.
    Surely you know I am engaged to fill
    The chair here?--that 't is part of my proud fate
    To lecture to as many thick-skulled youths
    As please, each day, to throng the theatre,
    To my great reputation, and no small
    Danger of Basel's benches long unused
    To crack beneath such honor?

    _Fest._                     I was there;
    I mingled with the throng: shall I avow
    Small care was mine to listen?--too intent
    On gathering from the murmurs of the crowd
    A full corroboration of my hopes!
    What can I learn about your powers? but they
    Know, care for naught beyond your actual state,
    Your actual value; yet they worship you,
    Those various natures whom you sway as one!
    But ere I go, be sure I shall attend ...

    _Par._ Stop, o' God's name: the thing's by no means yet
    Past remedy! Shall I read this morning's labor
    --At least in substance? Naught so worth the gaining
    As an apt scholar! Thus then, with all due
    Precision and emphasis--you, beside, are clearly
    Guiltless of understanding more, a whit,
    The subject than your stool--allowed to be
    A notable advantage.

    _Fest._              Surely, Aureole,
    You laugh at me!

    _Par._           I laugh? Ha, ha! thank heaven,
    I charge you, if 't be so! for I forget
    Much, and what laughter should be like. No less,
    However, I forego that luxury
    Since it alarms the friend who brings it back.
    True, laughter like my own must echo strangely
    To thinking men; a smile were better far;
    So, make me smile! If the exulting look
    You wore but now be smiling, 't is so long
    Since I have smiled! Alas, such smiles are born
    Alone of hearts like yours, or herdsmen's souls
    Of ancient time, whose eyes, calm as their flocks,
    Saw in the stars mere garnishry of heaven,
    And in the earth a stage for altars only.
    Never change, Festus: I say, never change!

    _Fest._ My God, if he be wretched after all!

    _Par._ When last we parted, Festus, you declared,
    --Or Michal, yes, her soft lips whispered words
    I have preserved. She told me she believed
    I should succeed (meaning, that in the search
    I then engaged in, I should meet success)
    And yet be wretched: now, she augured false.

    _Fest._ Thank heaven! but you spoke strangely: could I venture
    To think bare apprehension lest your friend,
    Dazzled by your resplendent course, might find
    Henceforth less sweetness in his own, could move
    Such earnest mood in you? Fear not, dear friend,
    That I shall leave you, inwardly repining
    Your lot was not my own!

    _Par._                   And this forever!
    Forever! gull who may, they will be gulled!
    They will not look nor think; 't is nothing new
    In them: but surely he is not of them!
    My Festus, do you know, I reckoned, you--
    Though all beside were sand-blind--you, my friend,
    Would look at me, once close, with piercing eye
    Untroubled by the false glare that confounds
    A weaker vision: would remain serene,
    Though singular amid a gaping throng.
    I feared you, or I had come, sure, long ere this,
    To Einsiedeln. Well, error has no end,
    And Rhasis is a sage, and Basel boasts
    A tribe of wits, and I am wise and blest
    Past all dispute! 'T is vain to fret at it.
    I have vowed long ago my worshippers
    Shall owe to their own deep sagacity
    All further information, good or bad.
    Small risk indeed my reputation runs,
    Unless perchance the glance now searching me
    Be fixed much longer; for it seems to spell
    Dimly the characters a simpler man
    Might read distinct enough. Old eastern books
    Say, the fallen prince of morning some short space
    Remained unchanged in semblance; nay, his brow
    Was hued with triumph: every spirit then
    Praising, _his_ heart on flame the while:--a tale!
    Well, Festus, what discover you, I pray?

    _Fest._ Some foul deed sullies then a life which else
    Were raised supreme?

    _Par._               Good: I do well, most well!
    Why strive to make men hear, feel, fret themselves
    With what is past their power to comprehend?
    I should not strive now: only, having nursed
    The faint surmise that one yet walked the earth,
    One, at least, not the utter fool of show,
    Not absolutely formed to be the dupe
    Of shallow plausibilities alone:
    One who, in youth, found wise enough to choose
    The happiness his riper years approve,
    Was yet so anxious for another's sake,
    That, ere his friend could rush upon a mad
    And ruinous course, the converse of his own,
    His gentle spirit essayed, prejudged for him
    The perilous path, foresaw its destiny,
    And warned the weak one in such tender words,
    Such accents--his whole heart in every tone--
    That oft their memory comforted that friend
    When it by right should have increased despair:
    --Having believed, I say, that this one man
    Could never lose the light thus from the first
    His portion--how should I refuse to grieve
    At even my gain if it disturb our old
    Relation, if it make me out more wise?
    Therefore, once more reminding him how well
    He prophesied, I note the single flaw
    That spoils his prophet's title. In plain words,
    You were deceived, and thus were you deceived--
    I have not been successful, and yet am
    Most miserable; 't is said at last; nor you
    Give credit, lest you force me to concede
    That common sense yet lives upon the world!

    _Fest._ You surely do not mean to banter me?

    _Par._ You know, or--if you have been wise enough
    To cleanse your memory of such matters--knew,
    As far as words of mine could make it clear,
    That 't was my purpose to find joy or grief
    Solely in the fulfilment of my plan
    Or plot or whatsoe'er it was; rejoicing
    Alone as it proceeded prosperously,
    Sorrowing then only when mischance retarded
    Its progress. That was in those Würzburg days!
    Not to prolong a theme I thoroughly hate,
    I have pursued this plan with all my strength;
    And having failed therein most signally,
    Cannot object to ruin utter and drear
    As all-excelling would have been the prize
    Had fortune favored me. I scarce have right
    To vex your frank good spirit late so glad
    In my supposed prosperity, I know,
    And, were I lucky in a glut of friends,
    Would well agree to let your error live,
    Nay, strengthen it with fables of success.
    But mine is no condition to refuse
    The transient solace of so rare a godsend,
    My solitary luxury, my one friend:
    Accordingly I venture to put off
    The wearisome vest of falsehood galling me,
    Secure when he is by. I lay me bare,
    Prone at his mercy--but he is my friend!
    Not that he needs retain his aspect grave;
    That answers not my purpose; for 't is like,
    Some sunny morning--Basel being drained
    Of its wise population, every corner
    Of the amphitheatre crammed with learned clerks,
    Here Œcolampadius, looking worlds of wit,
    Here Castellanus, as profound as he,
    Munsterus here, Frobenius there, all squeezed
    And staring,--that the zany of the show,
    Even Paracelsus, shall put off before them
    His trappings with a grace but seldom judged
    Expedient in such cases:--the grim smile
    That will go round! Is it not therefore best
    To venture a rehearsal like the present
    In a small way? Where are the signs I seek,
    The first-fruits and fair sample of the scorn
    Due to all quacks? Why, this will never do!

    _Fest._ These are foul vapors, Aureole; naught beside!
    The effect of watching, study, weariness.
    Were there a spark of truth in the confusion
    Of these wild words, you would not outrage thus
    Your youth's companion. I shall ne'er regard
    These wanderings, bred of faintness and much study.
    'T is not thus you would trust a trouble to me,
    To Michal's friend.

    _Par._              I have said it, dearest Festus!
    For the manner, 't is ungracious probably;
    You may have it told in broken sobs, one day,
    And scalding tears, ere long: but I thought best
    To keep that off as long as possible.
    Do you wonder still?

    _Fest._              No; it must oft fall out
    That one whose labor perfects any work,
    Shall rise from it with eye so worn that he
    Of all men least can measure the extent
    Of what he has accomplished. He alone
    Who, nothing tasked, is nothing weary too,
    May clearly scan the little he effects:
    But we, the bystanders, untouched by toil,
    Estimate each aright.

    _Par._                This worthy Festus
    Is one of them, at last! 'T is so with all!
    First, they set down all progress as a dream;
    And next, when he whose quick discomfiture
    Was counted on, accomplishes some few
    And doubtful steps in his career,--behold,
    They look for every inch of ground to vanish
    Beneath his tread, so sure they spy success!

    _Fest._ Few doubtful steps? when death retires before
    Your presence--when the noblest of mankind,
    Broken in body or subdued in soul,
    May through your skill renew their vigor, raise
    The shattered frame to pristine stateliness?
    When men in racking pain may purchase dreams
    Of what delights them most, swooning at once
    Into a sea of bliss or rapt along
    As in a flying sphere of turbulent light?
    When we may look to you as one ordained
    To free the flesh from fell disease, as frees
    Our Luther's burning tongue the fettered soul?
    When ...

    _Par._ When and where, the devil, did you get
    This notable news?

    _Fest._            Even from the common voice;
    From those whose envy, daring not dispute
    The wonders it decries, attributes them
    To magic and such folly.

    _Par._                   Folly? Why not
    To magic, pray? You find a comfort doubtless
    In holding, God ne'er troubles him about
    Us or our doings: once we were judged worth
    The devil's tempting ... I offend: forgive me,
    And rest content. Your prophecy on the whole
    Was fair enough as prophesyings go;
    At fault a little in detail, but quite
    Precise enough in the main; and hereupon
    I pay due homage: you guessed long ago
    (The prophet!) I should fail--and I have failed.

    _Fest._ You mean to tell me, then, the hopes which fed
    Your youth have not been realized as yet?
    Some obstacle has barred them hitherto?
    Or that their innate ...

    _Par._                   As I said but now,
    You have a very decent prophet's fame,
    So you but shun details here. Little matter
    Whether those hopes were mad,--the aims they sought,
    Safe and secure from all ambitious fools;
    Or whether my weak wits are overcome
    By what a better spirit would scorn: I fail.
    And now methinks 't were best to change a theme
    I am a sad fool to have stumbled on.
    I say confusedly what comes uppermost;
    But there are times when patience proves at fault,
    As now: this morning's strange encounter--you
    Beside me once again! you, whom I guessed
    Alive, since hitherto (with Luther's leave)
    No friend have I among the saints at peace,
    To judge by any good their prayers effect.
    I knew you would have helped me--why not he,
    My strange competitor in enterprise,
    Bound for the same end by another path,
    Arrived, or ill or well, before the time,
    At our disastrous journey's doubtful close?
    How goes it with Aprile? Ah, they miss
    Your lone sad sunny idleness of heaven,
    Our martyrs for the world's sake; heaven shuts fast:
    The poor mad poet is howling by this time!
    Since you are my sole friend then, here or there,
    I could not quite repress the varied feelings
    This meeting wakens; they have had their vent,
    And now forget them. Do the rear-mice still
    Hang like a fretwork on the gate (or what
    In my time was a gate) fronting the road
    From Einsiedeln to Lachen?

    _Fest._                    Trifle not:
    Answer me, for my sake alone! You smiled
    Just now, when I supposed some deed, unworthy
    Yourself, might blot the else so bright result;
    Yet if your motives have continued pure,
    Your will unfaltering, and in spite of this,
    You have experienced a defeat, why then
    I say not you would cheerfully withdraw
    From contest--mortal hearts are not so fashioned--
    But surely you would ne'ertheless withdraw.
    You sought not fame nor gain nor even love,
    No end distinct from knowledge,--I repeat
    Your very words: once satisfied that knowledge
    Is a mere dream, you would announce as much,
    Yourself the first. But how is the event?
    You are defeated--and I find you here!

    _Par._ As though "here" did not signify defeat!
    I spoke not of my little labors here,
    But of the break-down of my general aims:
    For you, aware of their extent and scope,
    To look on these sage lecturings, approved
    By beardless boys, and bearded dotards worse,
    As a fit consummation of such aims,
    Is worthy notice. A professorship
    At Basel! Since you see so much in it,
    And think my life was reasonably drained
    Of life's delights to render me a match
    For duties arduous as such post demands,--
    Be it far from me to deny my power
    To fill the petty circle lotted out
    Of infinite space, or justify the host
    Of honors thence accruing. So, take notice,
    This jewel dangling from my neck preserves
    The features of a prince, my skill restored
    To plague his people some few years to come:
    And all through a pure whim. He had eased the earth
    For me, but that the droll despair which seized
    The vermin of his household, tickled me.
    I came to see. Here drivelled the physician,
    Whose most infallible nostrum was at fault;
    There quaked the astrologer, whose horoscope
    Had promised him interminable years;
    Here a monk fumbled at the sick man's mouth
    With some undoubted relic--a sudary
    Of the Virgin; while another piebald knave
    Of the same brotherhood (he loved them ever)
    Was actively preparing 'neath his nose
    Such a suffumigation as, once fired,
    Had stunk the patient dead ere he could groan.
    I cursed the doctor and upset the brother,
    Brushed past the conjurer, vowed that the first gust
    Of stench from the ingredients just alight
    Would raise a cross-grained devil in my sword,
    Not easily laid: and ere an hour the prince
    Slept as he never slept since prince he was.
    A day--and I was posting for my life,
    Placarded through the town as one whose spite
    Had near availed to stop the blessed effects
    Of the doctor's nostrum which, well seconded
    By the sudary, and most by the costly smoke--
    Not leaving out the strenuous prayers sent up
    Hard by in the abbey--raised the prince to life:
    To the great reputation of the seer
    Who, confident, expected all along
    The glad event--the doctor's recompense--
    Much largess from his highness to the monks--
    And the vast solace of his loving people,
    Whose general satisfaction to increase,
    The prince was pleased no longer to defer
    The burning of some dozen heretics
    Remanded till God's mercy should be shown
    Touching his sickness: last of all were joined
    Ample directions to all loyal folk
    To swell the complement by seizing me
    Who--doubtless some rank sorcerer--endeavored
    To thwart these pious offices, obstruct
    The prince's cure, and frustrate heaven by help
    Of certain devils dwelling in his sword.
    By luck, the prince in his first fit of thanks
    Had forced this bauble on me as an earnest
    Of further favors. This one case may serve
    To give sufficient taste of many such,
    So, let them pass. Those shelves support a pile
    Of patents, licenses, diplomas, titles
    From Germany, France, Spain, and Italy;
    They authorize some honor; ne'ertheless,
    I set more store by this Erasmus sent;
    He trusts me; our Frobenius is his friend,
    And him "I raised" (nay, read it) "from the dead."
    I weary you, I see. I merely sought
    To show, there's no great wonder after all
    That, while I fill the class-room and attract
    A crowd to Basel, I get leave to stay,
    And therefore need not scruple to accept
    The utmost they can offer, if I please:
    For 't is but right the world should be prepared
    To treat with favor e'en fantastic wants
    Of one like me, used up in serving her.
    Just as the mortal, whom the gods in part
    Devoured, received in place of his lost limb
    Some virtue or other--cured disease, I think;
    You mind the fables we have read together.

    _Fest._ You do not think I comprehend a word.
    The time was, Aureole, you were apt enough
    To clothe the airiest thoughts in specious breath;
    But surely you must feel how vague and strange
    These speeches sound.

    _Par._                Well, then: you know my hopes;
    I am assured, at length, those hopes were vain;
    That truth is just as far from me as ever;
    That I have thrown my life away; that sorrow
    On that account is idle, and further effort
    To mend and patch what's marred beyond repairing,
    As useless: and all this was taught your friend
    By the convincing good old-fashioned method
    Of force--by sheer compulsion. Is that plain?

    _Fest._ Dear Aureole, can it be my fears were just?
    God wills not ...

    _Par._            Now, 't is this I most admire--
    The constant talk men of your stamp keep up
    Of God's will, as they style it; one would swear
    Man had but merely to uplift his eye,
    And see the will in question charactered
    On the heaven's vault. 'T is hardly wise to moot
    Such topics: doubts are many and faith is weak.
    I know as much of any will of God
    As knows some dumb and tortured brute what Man,
    His stern lord, wills from the perplexing blows
    That plague him every way; but there, of course,
    Where least he suffers, longest he remains--
    My case; and for such reasons I plod on,
    Subdued but not convinced. I know as little
    Why I deserve to fail, as why I hoped
    Better things in my youth. I simply know
    I am no master here, but trained and beaten
    Into the path I tread; and here I stay,
    Until some further intimation reach me,
    Like an obedient drudge. Though I prefer
    To view the whole thing as a task imposed
    Which, whether dull or pleasant, must be done--
    Yet, I deny not, there is made provision
    Of joys which tastes less jaded might affect;
    Nay, some which please me too, for all my pride--
    Pleasures that once were pains: the iron ring
    Festering about a slave's neck grows at length
    Into the flesh it eats. I hate no longer
    A host of petty vile delights, undreamed of
    Or spurned before; such now supply the place
    Of my dead aims: as in the autumn woods
    Where tall trees used to flourish, from their roots
    Springs up a fungous brood sickly and pale,
    Chill mushrooms colored like a corpse's cheek.

    _Fest._ If I interpret well your words, I own
    It troubles me but little that your aims,
    Vast in their dawning and most likely grown
    Extravagantly since, have baffled you.
    Perchance I am glad; you merit greater praise;
    Because they are too glorious to be gained,
    Yon do not blindly cling to them and die;
    You fell, but have not sullenly refused
    To rise, because an angel worsted you
    In wrestling, though the world holds not your peer;
    And though too harsh and sudden is the change
    To yield content as yet, still you pursue
    The ungracious path as though 't were rosy-strewn.
    'T is well: and your reward, or soon or late,
    Will come from him whom no man serves in vain.

    _Par._ Ah, very fine! For my part, I conceive
    The very pausing from all further toil,
    Which you find heinous, would become a seal
    To the sincerity of all my deeds.
    To be consistent I should die at once;
    I calculated on no after-life;
    Yet (how crept in, how fostered, I know not)
    Here am I with as passionate regret
    For youth and health and love so vainly lavished,
    As if their preservation had been first
    And foremost in my thoughts; and this strange fact
    Humbled me wondrously, and had due force
    In rendering me the less averse to follow
    A certain counsel, a mysterious warning--
    You will not understand--but 't was a man
    With aims not mine and yet pursued like mine,
    With the same fervor and no more success,
    Perishing in my sight; who summoned me,
    As I would shun the ghastly fate I saw,
    To serve my race at once; to wait no longer
    That God should interfere in my behalf,
    But to distrust myself, put pride away,
    And give my gains, imperfect as they were,
    To men. I have not leisure to explain
    How, since, a singular series of events
    Has raised me to the station you behold,
    Wherein I seem to turn to most account
    The mere wreck of the past,--perhaps receive
    Some feeble glimmering token that God views
    And may approve my penance: therefore here
    You find me, doing most good or least harm.
    And if folks wonder much and profit little
    'T is not my fault; only, I shall rejoice
    When my part in the farce is shuffled through,
    And the curtain falls: I must hold out till then.

    _Fest._ Till when, dear Aureole?

    _Par._                           Till I'm fairly thrust
    From my proud eminence. Fortune is fickle
    And even professors fall: should that arrive,
    I see no sin in ceding to my bent.
    You little fancy what rude shocks apprise us
    We sin; God's intimations rather fail
    In clearness than in energy: 't were well
    Did they but indicate the course to take
    Like that to be forsaken. I would fain
    Be spared a further sample. Here I stand,
    And here I stay, be sure, till forced to flit.

    _Fest._ Be you but firm on that head! long ere then
    All I expect will come to pass, I trust:
    The cloud that wraps you will have disappeared.
    Meantime, I see small chance of such event:
    They praise you here as one whose lore, already
    Divulged, eclipses all the past can show,
    But whose achievements, marvellous as they be,
    Are faint anticipations of a glory
    About to be revealed. When Basel's crowds
    Dismiss their teacher, I shall be content
    That he depart.

    _Par._          This favor at their hands
    I look for earlier than your view of things
    Would warrant. Of the crowd you saw to-day,
    Remove the full half sheer amazement draws,
    Mere novelty, naught else; and next, the tribe
    Whose innate blockish dulness just perceives
    That unless miracles (as seem my works)
    Be wrought in their behalf, their chance is slight
    To puzzle the devil; next, the numerous set
    Who bitterly hate established schools, and help
    The teacher that oppugns them, till he once
    Have planted his own doctrine, when the teacher
    May reckon on their rancor in his turn;
    Take, too, the sprinkling of sagacious knaves
    Whose cunning runs not counter to the vogue,
    But seeks, by flattery and crafty nursing,
    To force my system to a premature
    Short-lived development. Why swell the list?
    Each has his end to serve, and his best way
    Of serving it: remove all these, remains
    A scantling, a poor dozen at the best,
    Worthy to look for sympathy and service,
    And likely to draw profit from my pains.

    _Fest._ 'T is no encouraging picture: still these few
    Redeem their fellows. Once the germ implanted,
    Its growth, if slow, is sure.

    _Par._                        God grant it so!
    I would make some amends: but if I fail,
    The luckless rogues have this excuse to urge,
    That much is in my method and my manner,
    My uncouth habits, my impatient spirit,
    Which hinders of reception and result
    My doctrine: much to say, small skill to speak!
    These old aims suffered not a looking-off
    Though for an instant; therefore, only when
    I thus renounce them and resolved to reap
    Some present fruit--to teach mankind some truth
    So dearly purchased--only then I found
    Such teaching was an art requiring cares
    And qualities peculiar to itself:
    That to possess was one thing--to display
    Another. With renown first in my thoughts,
    Or popular praise, I had soon discovered it:
    One grows but little apt to learn these things.

    _Fest._ If it be so, which nowise I believe,
    There needs no waiting fuller dispensation
    To leave a labor of so little use.
    Why not throw up the irksome charge at once?

    _Par._ A task, a task!
                           But wherefore hide the whole
    Extent of degradation once engaged
    In the confessing vein? Despite of all
    My fine talk of obedience and repugnance,
    Docility and what not, 't is yet to learn
    If when the task shall really be performed,
    My inclination free to choose once more,
    I shall do aught but slightly modify
    The nature of the hated task I quit.
    In plain words, I am spoiled; my life still tends
    As first it tended; I am broken and trained
    To my old habits: they are part of me.
    I know, and none so well, my darling ends
    Are proved impossible: no less, no less,
    Even now what humors me, fond fool, as when
    Their faint ghosts sit with me and flatter me
    And send me back content to my dull round?
    How can I change this soul?--this apparatus
    Constructed solely for their purposes,
    So well adapted to their every want,
    To search out and discover, prove and perfect;
    This intricate machine whose most minute
    And meanest motions have their charm to me
    Though to none else--an aptitude I seize,
    An object I perceive, a use, a meaning,
    A property, a fitness, I explain
    And I alone:--how can I change my soul?
    And this wronged body, worthless save when tasked
    Under that soul's dominion--used to care
    For its bright master's cares and quite subdue
    Its proper cravings--not to ail nor pine
    So he but prosper--whither drag this poor
    Tried patient body? God! how I essayed
    To live like that mad poet, for a while,
    To love alone; and how I felt too warped
    And twisted and deformed! What should I do,
    Even though released from drudgery, but return
    Faint, as you see, and halting, blind and sore,
    To my old life and die as I began?
    I cannot feed on beauty for the sake
    Of beauty only, nor can drink in balm
    From lovely objects for their loveliness;
    My nature cannot lose her first imprint;
    I still must hoard and heap and class all truths
    With one ulterior purpose: I must know!
    Would God translate me to his throne, believe
    That I should only listen to his word
    To further my own aim! For other men,
    Beauty is prodigally strewn around,
    And I were happy could I quench as they
    This mad and thriveless longing, and content me
    With beauty for itself alone: alas,
    I have addressed a frock of heavy mail
    Yet may not join the troop of sacred knights;
    And now the forest-creatures fly from me,
    The grass-banks cool, the sunbeams warm no more.
    Best follow, dreaming that ere night arrive,
    I shall o'ertake the company and ride
    Glittering as they!

    _Fest._             I think I apprehend
    What you would say: if you, in truth, design
    To enter once more on the life thus left,
    Seek not to hide that all this consciousness
    Of failure is assumed!

    _Par._                My friend, my friend,
    I toil, you listen; I explain, perhaps
    You understand: there our communion ends.
    Have you learnt nothing from to-day's discourse?
    When we would thoroughly know the sick man's state
    We feel awhile the fluttering pulse, press soft
    The hot brow, look upon the languid eye,
    And thence divine the rest. Must I lay bare
    My heart, hideous and beating, or tear up
    My vitals for your gaze, ere you will deem
    Enough made known? You! who are you, forsooth?
    That is the crowning operation claimed
    By the arch-demonstrator--heaven the hall,
    And earth the audience. Let Aprile and you
    Secure good places: 't will be worth the while.

    _Fest._ Are you mad, Aureole? What can I have said
    To call for this? I judged from your own words.

    _Par._ Oh, doubtless! A sick wretch describes the ape
    That mocks him from the bed-foot, and all gravely
    You thither turn at once: or he recounts
    The perilous journey he has late performed,
    And you are puzzled much how that could be!
    You find me here, half stupid and half mad;
    It makes no part of my delight to search
    Into these matters, much less undergo
    Another's scrutiny; but so it chances
    That I am led to trust my state to you:
    And the event is, you combine, contrast
    And ponder on my foolish words as though
    They thoroughly conveyed all hidden here--
    Here, loathsome with despair and hate and rage!
    Is there no fear, no shrinking and no shame?
    Will you guess nothing? will you spare me nothing?
    Must I go deeper? Ay or no?

    _Fest._                     Dear friend ...

    _Par._ True: I am brutal--'t is a part of it;
    The plague's sign--you are not a lazar-haunter,
    How should you know? Well then, you think it strange
    I should profess to have failed utterly,
    And yet propose an ultimate return
    To courses void of hope: and this, because
    You know not what temptation is, nor how
    'T is like to ply men in the sickliest part.
    You are to understand that we who make
    Sport for the gods, are hunted to the end:
    There is not one sharp volley shot at us,
    Which 'scaped with life, though hurt, we slacken pace
    And gather by the wayside herbs and roots
    To stanch our wounds, secure from further harm:
    We are assailed to life's extremest verge.
    It will be well indeed if I return,
    A harmless busy fool, to my old ways!
    I would forget hints of another fate,
    Significant enough, which silent hours
    Have lately scared me with.

    _Fest._                     Another! and what?

    _Par._ After all, Festus, you say well: I am
    A man yet: I need never humble me.
    I would have been--something, I know not what;
    But though I cannot soar, I do not crawl.
    There are worse portions than this one of mine.
    You say well!

    _Fest._       Ah!

    _Par._            And deeper degradation!
    If the mean stimulants of vulgar praise,
    If vanity should become the chosen food
    Of a sunk mind, should stifle even the wish
    To find its early aspirations true,
    Should teach it to breathe falsehood like life-breath--
    An atmosphere of craft and trick and lies;
    Should make it proud to emulate, surpass
    Base natures in the practices which woke
    Its most indignant loathing once ... No, no!
    Utter damnation is reserved for hell!
    I had immortal feelings; such shall never
    Be wholly quenched: no, no!
                                My friend, you wear
    A melancholy face, and certain 't is
    There 's little cheer in all this dismal work.
    But was it my desire to set abroach
    Such memories and forebodings? I foresaw
    Where they would drive. 'T were better we discuss
    News from Lucerne or Zurich; ask and tell
    Of Egypt's flaring sky or Spain's cork-groves.

    _Fest._ I have thought: trust me, this mood will pass away!
    I know you and the lofty spirit you bear,
    And easily ravel out a clue to all.
    These are the trials meet for such as you,
    Nor must you hope exemption: to be mortal
    Is to be plied with trials manifold.
    Look round! The obstacles which kept the rest
    From your ambition, have been spurned by you;
    Their fears, their doubts, the chains that bind them all,
    Were flax before your resolute soul, which naught
    Avails to awe save these delusions bred
    From its own strength, its selfsame strength disguised,
    Mocking itself. Be brave, dear Aureole! Since
    The rabbit has his shade to frighten him,
    The fawn a rustling bough, mortals their cares,
    And higher natures yet would slight and laugh
    At these entangling fantasies, as you
    At trammels of a weaker intellect,--
    Measure your mind's height by the shade it casts!
    I know you.

    _Par._      And I know you, dearest Festus!
    And how you love unworthily; and how
    All admiration renders blind.

    _Fest._                       You hold
    That admiration blinds?

    _Par._                  Ay and alas!

    _Fest._ Naught blinds you less than admiration, friend!
    Whether it be that all love renders wise
    In its degree; from love which blends with love--
    Heart answering heart--to love which spends itself
    In silent mad idolatry of some
    Pre-eminent mortal, some great soul of souls,
    Which ne'er will know how well it is adored.
    I say, such love is never blind; but rather
    Alive to every the minutest spot
    Which mars its object, and which hate (supposed
    So vigilant and searching) dreams not of.
    Love broods on such: what then? When first perceived
    Is there no sweet strife to forget, to change,
    To overflush those blemishes with all
    The glow of general goodness they disturb?
    --To make those very defects an endless source
    Of new affection grown from hopes and fears?
    And, when all fails, is there no gallant stand
    Made even for much proved weak? no shrinking-back
    Lest, since all love assimilates the soul
    To what it loves, it should at length become
    Almost a rival of its idol? Trust me,
    If there be fiends who seek to work our hurt,
    To ruin and drag down earth's mightiest spirits
    Even at God's foot, 't will be from such as love,
    Their zeal will gather most to serve their cause;
    And least from those who hate, who most essay
    By contumely and scorn to blot the light
    Which forces entrance even to their hearts:
    For thence will our defender tear the veil
    And show within each heart, as in a shrine,
    The giant image of perfection, grown
    In hate's despite, whose calumnies were spawned
    In the untroubled presence of its eyes.
    True admiration blinds not; nor am I
    So blind. I call your sin exceptional;
    It springs from one whose life has passed the bounds
    Prescribed to life. Compound that fault with God!
    I speak of men; to common men like me
    The weakness you reveal endears you more,
    Like the far traces of decay in suns.
    I bid you have good cheer!

    _Par._                     _Præclare! Optime!_
    Think of a quiet mountain-cloistered priest
    Instructing Paracelsus! yet 't is so.
    Come, I will show you where my merit lies.
    'T is in the advance of individual minds
    That the slow crowd should ground their expectation
    Eventually to follow; as the sea
    Waits ages in its bed till some one wave
    Out of the multitudinous mass, extends
    The empire of the whole, some feet perhaps,
    Over the strip of sand which could confine
    Its fellows so long time: thenceforth the rest,
    Even to the meanest, hurry in at once,
    And so much is clear gained. I shall be glad
    If all my labors, failing of aught else,
    Suffice to make such inroad and procure
    A wider range for thought: nay, they do this;
    For, whatsoe'er my notions of true knowledge
    And a legitimate success, may be,
    I am not blind to my undoubted rank
    When classed with others: I precede my age:
    And whoso wills is very free to mount
    These labors as a platform whence his own
    May have a prosperous outset. But, alas!
    My followers--they are noisy as you heard;
    But, for intelligence, the best of them
    So clumsily wield the weapons I supply
    And they extol, that I begin to doubt
    Whether their own rude clubs and pebble-stones
    Would not do better service than my arms
    Thus vilely swayed--if error will not fall
    Sooner before the old awkward batterings
    Than my more subtle warfare, not half learned.

    _Fest._ I would supply that art, then, or withhold
    New arms until you teach their mystery.

    _Par._ Content you, 't is my wish; I have recourse
    To the simplest training. Day by day I seek
    To wake the mood, the spirit which alone
    Can make those arms of any use to men.
    Of course they are for swaggering forth at once
    Graced with Ulysses' bow, Achilles' shield--
    Flash on us, all in armor, thou Achilles!
    Make our hearts dance to thy resounding step!
    A proper sight to scare the crows away!

    _Fest._ Pity you choose not then some other method
    Of coming at your point. The marvellous art
    At length established in the world bids fair
    To remedy all hindrances like these:
    Trust to Frobenius' press the precious lore
    Obscured by uncouth manner, or unfit
    For raw beginners; let his types secure
    A deathless monument to after-time;
    Meanwhile wait confidently and enjoy
    The ultimate effect: sooner or later
    You shall be all-revealed.

    _Par._                     The old dull question
    In a new form; no more. Thus: I possess
    Two sorts of knowledge; one,--vast, shadowy,
    Hints of the unbounded aim I once pursued:
    The other consists of many secrets, caught
    While bent on nobler prize,--perhaps a few
    Prime principles which may conduct to much:
    These last I offer to my followers here.
    Now, bid me chronicle the first of these,
    My ancient study, and in effect you bid
    Revert to the wild courses just abjured:
    I must go find them scattered through the world.
    Then, for the principles, they are so simple
    (Being chiefly of the overturning sort),
    That one time is as proper to propound them
    As any other--to-morrow at my class,
    Or half a century hence embalmed in print.
    For if mankind intend to learn at all,
    They must begin by giving faith to them
    And acting on them: and I do not see
    But that my lectures serve indifferent well:
    No doubt these dogmas fall not to the earth,
    For all their novelty and rugged setting.
    I think my class will not forget the day
    I let them know the gods of Israel,
    Aëtius, Oribasius, Galen, Rhasis,
    Serapion, Avicenna, Averröes,
    Were blocks!

    _Fest._ And that reminds me, I heard something
    About your waywardness: you burned their books.
    It seems, instead of answering those sages.

    _Par._ And who said that?

    _Fest._                   Some I met yesternight
    With Œcolampadius. As you know, the purpose
    Of this short stay at Basel was to learn
    His pleasure touching certain missives sent
    For our Zuinglius and himself. 'T was he
    Apprised me that the famous teacher here
    Was my old friend.

    _Par._            Ah, I forgot: you went ...

    _Fest._ From Zurich with advices for the ear
    Of Luther, now at Wittenberg--(you know,
    I make no doubt, the differences of late
    With Carolostadius)--and returning sought
    Basel and ...

    _Par._         I remember. Here 's a case, now,
    Will teach you why I answer not, but burn
    The books you mention. Pray, does Luther dream
    His arguments convince by their own force
    The crowds that own his doctrine? No, indeed!
    His plain denial of established points
    Ages had sanctified and men supposed
    Could never be oppugned while earth was under
    And heaven above them--points which chance or time
    Affected not--did more than the array
    Of argument which followed. Boldly deny!
    There is much breath-stopping, hair-stiffening
    Awhile; then, amazed glances, mute awaiting
    The thunderbolt which does not come: and next,
    Reproachful wonder and inquiry; those
    Who else had never stirred, are able now
    To find the rest out for themselves, perhaps
    To outstrip him who set the whole at work,
    --As never will my wise class its instructor.
    And you saw Luther?

    _Fest._             'T is a wondrous soul!

    _Par._ True: the so-heavy chain which galled mankind
    Is shattered, and the noblest of us all
    Must bow to the deliverer--nay, the worker
    Of our own project--we who long before
    Had burst our trammels, but forgot the crowd,
    We should have taught, still groaned beneath their load:
    This he has done and nobly. Speed that may!
    Whatever be my chance or my mischance,
    What benefits mankind must glad me too;
    And men seem made, though not as I believed,
    For something better than the times produce.
    Witness these gangs of peasants your new lights
    From Suabia have possessed, whom Münzer leads,
    And whom the duke, the landgrave and the elector
    Will calm in blood! Well, well; 't is not my world!

    _Fest._ Hark!

    _Par._        'T is the melancholy wind astir
    Within the trees; the embers too are gray:
    Morn must be near.

    _Fest._            Best ope the casement: see,
    The night, late strewn with clouds and flying stars,
    Is blank and motionless: how peaceful sleep
    The tree-tops altogether! Like an asp,
    The wind slips whispering from bough to bough.

    _Par._ Ay; you would gaze on a wind-shaken tree
    By the hour, nor count time lost.

    _Fest._                           So you shall gaze:
    Those happy times will come again.

    _Par._                             Gone, gone,
    Those pleasant times! Does not the moaning wind
    Seem to bewail that we have gained such gains
    And bartered sleep for them?

    _Fest._                      It is our trust
    That there is yet another world to mend
    All error and mischance.

    _Par._                   Another world!
    And why this world, this common world, to be
    A make-shift, a mere foil, how fair soever,
    To some fine life to come? Man must be fed
    With angels' food, forsooth; and some few traces
    Of a diviner nature which look out
    Through his corporeal baseness, warrant him
    In a supreme contempt of all provision
    For his inferior tastes--some straggling marks
    Which constitute his essence, just as truly
    As here and there a gem would constitute
    The rock, their barren bed, one diamond.
    But were it so--were man all mind--he gains
    A station little enviable. From God
    Down to the lowest spirit ministrant,
    Intelligence exists which casts our mind
    Into immeasurable shade. No, no:
    Love, hope, fear, faith--these make humanity;
    These are its sign and note and character,
    And these I have lost!--gone, shut from me forever,
    Like a dead friend safe from unkindness more!
    See, morn at length. The heavy darkness seems
    Diluted, gray and clear without the stars;
    The shrubs bestir and rouse themselves as if
    Some snake, that weighed them down all night, let go
    His hold; and from the East, fuller and fuller
    Day, like a mighty river, flowing in;
    But clouded, wintry, desolate and cold.
    Yet see how that broad prickly star-shaped plant,
    Half-down in the crevice, spreads its woolly leaves
    All thick and glistering with diamond dew.
    And you depart for Einsiedeln this day,
    And we have spent all night in talk like this!
    If you would have me better for your love,
    Revert no more to these sad themes.

    _Fest._                             One favor,
    And I have done. I leave you, deeply moved;
    Unwilling to have fared so well, the while
    My friend has changed so sorely. If this mood
    Shall pass away, if light once more arise
    Where all is darkness now, if you see fit
    To hope and trust again, and strive again,
    You will remember--not our love alone--
    But that my faith in God's desire that man
    Should trust on his support, (as I must think
    You trusted) is obscured and dim through you:
    For you are thus, and this is no reward.
    Will you not call me to your side, dear Aureole?


[Footnote 2: Citrinula (flammula) herba Paracelso multum


    SCENE, _Colmar in Alsatia: an Inn._ 1528.


    _Par._ (_to_ JOHANNES OPORINUS, _his Secretary_). _Sic itur ad
       astra!_ Dear Von Visenburg
    Is scandalized, and poor Torinus paralyzed,
    And every honest soul that Basel holds
    Aghast; and yet we live, as one may say,
    Just as though Liechtenfels had never set
    So true a value on his sorry carcass,
    And learned Pütter had not frowned us dumb.
    We live; and shall as surely start to-morrow
    For Nuremberg, as we drink speedy scathe
    To Basel in this mantling wine, suffused
    A delicate blush, no fainter tinge is born
    I' the shut heart of a bud. Pledge me, good John--
    "Basel; a hot plague ravage it, and Pütter
    Oppose the plague!" Even so? Do you too share
    Their panic, the reptiles? Ha, ha; faint through these,
    Desist for these! They manage matters so
    At Basel, 't is like: but others may find means
    To bring the stoutest braggart of the tribe
    Once more to crouch in silence--means to breed
    A stupid wonder in each fool again,
    Now big with admiration at the skill
    Which stript a vain pretender of his plumes:
    And, that done,--means to brand each slavish brow
    So deeply, surely, ineffaceably,
    That henceforth flattery shall not pucker it
    Out of the furrow; there that stamp shall stay
    To show the next they fawn on, what they are,
    This Basel with its magnates,--fill my cup,--
    Whom I curse soul and limb. And now dispatch,
    Dispatch, my trusty John; and what remains
    To do, whate'er arrangements for our trip
    Are yet to be completed, see you hasten
    This night; we'll weather the storm at least: to-morrow
    For Nuremberg! Now leave us; this grave clerk
    Has divers weighty matters for my ear:
                           [OPORINUS _goes out._
    And spare my lungs. At last, my gallant Festus,
    I am rid of this arch-knave that dogs my heels
    As a gaunt crow a gasping sheep; at last
    May give a loose to my delight. How kind,
    How very kind, my first best only friend!
    Why, this looks like fidelity. Embrace me!
    Not a hair silvered yet? Right! you shall live
    Till I am worth your love; you shall be proud,
    And I--but let time show! Did you not wonder?
    I sent to you because our compact weighed
    Upon my conscience--(you recall the night
    At Basel, which the gods confound!)--because
    Once more I aspire. I call you to my side:
    You come. You thought my message strange?

    _Fest._                                   So strange
    That I must hope, indeed, your messenger
    Has mingled his own fancies with the words
    Purporting to be yours.

    _Par._                  He said no more,
    'T is probable, than the precious folk I leave
    Said fiftyfold more roughly. Welladay,
    'T is true! poor Paracelsus is exposed
    At last; a most egregious quack he proves:
    And those he overreached must spit their hate
    On one who, utterly beneath contempt,
    Could yet deceive their topping wits. You heard
    Bare truth; and at my bidding you come here
    To speed me on my enterprise, as once
    Your lavish wishes sped me, my own friend!

    _Fest._ What is your purpose, Aureole?

    _Par._                                 Oh, for purpose,
    There is no lack of precedents in a case
    Like mine; at least, if not precisely mine,
    The case of men cast off by those they sought
    To benefit.

    _Fest._     They really cast you off?
    I only heard a vague tale of some priest,
    Cured by your skill, who wrangled at your claim,
    Knowing his life's worth best; and how the judge
    The matter was referred to saw no cause
    To interfere, nor you to hide your full
    Contempt of him; nor he, again, to smother
    His wrath thereat, which raised so fierce a flame
    That Basel soon was made no place for you.

    _Par._ The affair of Liechtenfels? the shallowest fable,
    The last and silliest outrage--mere pretence!
    I knew it, I foretold it from the first,
    How soon the stupid wonder you mistook
    For genuine loyalty--a cheering promise
    Of better things to come--would pall and pass;
    And every word comes true. Saul is among
    The prophets! Just so long as I was pleased
    To play off the mere antics of my art,
    Fantastic gambols leading to no end,
    I got huge praise: but one can ne'er keep down
    Our foolish nature's weakness. There they flocked,
    Poor devils, jostling, swearing and perspiring.
    Till the walls rang again; and all for me!
    I had a kindness for them, which was right;
    But then I stopped not till I tacked to that
    A trust in them and a respect--a sort
    Of sympathy for them; I must needs begin
    To teach them, not amaze them, "to impart
    The spirit which should instigate the search
    Of truth," just what you bade me! I spoke out.
    Forthwith a mighty squadron, in disgust,
    Filed off--"the sifted chaff of the sack," I said,
    Redoubling my endeavors to secure
    The rest. When lo! one man had tarried so long
    Only to ascertain if I supported
    This tenet of his, or that; another loved
    To hear impartially before he judged,
    And having heard, now judged; this bland disciple
    Passed for my dupe, but all along, it seems,
    Spied error where his neighbors marvelled most;
    That fiery doctor who had hailed me friend,
    Did it because my by-paths, once proved wrong
    And beaconed properly, would commend again
    The good old ways our sires jogged safely o'er,
    Though not their squeamish sons; the other worthy
    Discovered divers verses of St. John,
    Which, read successively, refreshed the soul,
    But, muttered backwards, cured the gout, the stone,
    The colic and what not. _Quid multa?_ The end
    Was a clear class-room, and a quiet leer
    From grave folk, and a sour reproachful glance
    From those in chief who, cap in hand, installed
    The new professor scarce a year before;
    And a vast flourish about patient merit
    Obscured awhile by flashy tricks, but sure
    Sooner or later to emerge in splendor--
    Of which the example was some luckless wight
    Whom my arrival had discomfited,
    But now, it seems, the general voice recalled
    To fill my chair and so efface the stain
    Basel had long incurred. I sought no better,
    Only a quiet dismissal from my post,
    And from my heart I wished them better suited
    And better served. Good night to Basel, then!
    But fast as I proposed to rid the tribe
    Of my obnoxious back, I could not spare them
    The pleasure of a parting kick.

    _Fest._                         You smile:
    Despise them as they merit!

    _Par._                      If I smile,
    'T is with as very contempt as ever turned
    Flesh into stone. This courteous recompense,
    This grateful ... Festus, were your nature fit
    To be defiled, your eyes the eyes to ache
    At gangrene-blotches, eating poison-blains,
    The ulcerous barky scurf of leprosy
    Which finds--a man, and leaves--a hideous thing
    That cannot but be mended by hell-fire,
    --I would lay bare to you the human heart
    Which God cursed long ago, and devils make since
    Their pet nest and their never-tiring home.
    Oh, sages have discovered we are born
    For various ends--to love, to know: has ever
    One stumbled, in his search, on any signs
    Of a nature in us formed to hate? To hate?
    If that be our true object which evokes
    Our powers in fullest strength, be sure 't is hate!
    Yet men have doubted if the best and bravest
    Of spirits can nourish him with hate alone.
    I had not the monopoly of fools,
    It seems, at Basel.

    _Fest._             But your plans, your plans!
    I have yet to learn your purpose, Aureole!

    _Par._ Whether to sink beneath such ponderous shame,
    To shrink up like a crushed snail, undergo
    In silence and desist from further toil,
    And so subside into a monument
    Of one their censure blasted? or to bow
    Cheerfully as submissively, to lower
    My old pretensions even as Basel dictates,
    To drop into the rank her wits assign me
    And live as they prescribe, and make that use
    Of my poor knowledge which their rules allow,
    Proud to be patted now and then, and careful
    To practise the true posture for receiving
    The amplest benefit from their hoofs' appliance
    When they shall condescend to tutor me?
    Then, one may feel resentment like a flame
    Within, and deck false systems in truth's garb,
    And tangle and entwine mankind with error,
    And give them darkness for a dower and falsehood
    For a possession, ages: or one may mope
    Into a shade through thinking, or else drowse
    Into a dreamless sleep and so die off.
    But I,--now Festus shall divine!--but I
    Am merely setting out once more, embracing
    My earliest aims again! What thinks he now?

    _Fest._ Your aims? the aims?--to Know? and where is found
    The early trust ...

    _Par._              Nay, not so fast; I say,
    The aims--not the old means. You know they made me
    A laughing-stock; I was a fool; you know
    The when and the how: hardly those means again!
    Not but they had their beauty; who should know
    Their passing beauty, if not I? Still, dreams
    They were, so let them vanish, yet in beauty
    If that may he. Stay: thus they pass in song!
                                        [_He sings._
      Heap cassia, sandal-buds and stripes
      Of labdanum, and aloe-balls,
      Smeared with dull nard an Indian wipes
        From out her hair: such balsam falls
        Down sea-side mountain pedestals,
      From tree-tops where tired winds are fain,
      Spent with the vast and howling main,
      To treasure half their island-gain.

      And strew faint sweetness from some old
        Egyptian's fine worm-eaten shroud
      Which breaks to dust when once unrolled;
        Or shredded perfume, like a cloud
      From closet long to quiet vowed,
      With mothed and dropping arras hung,
      Mouldering her lute and books among,
      As when a queen, long dead, was young.

    Mine, every word! And on such pile shall die
    My lovely fancies, with fair perished things,
    Themselves fair and forgotten; yes, forgotten,
    Or why abjure them? So, I made this rhyme
    That fitting dignity might be preserved;
    No little proud was I; though the list of drugs
    Smacks of my old vocation, and the verse
    Halts like the best of Luther's psalms.

    _Fest._                                 But, Aureole,
    Talk not thus wildly and madly. I am here--
    Did you know all! I have travelled far, indeed,
    To learn your wishes. Be yourself again!
    For in this mood I recognize you less
    Than in the horrible despondency
    I witnessed last. You may account this, joy;
    But rather let me gaze on that despair
    Than hear these incoherent words and see
    This flushed cheek and intensely-sparkling eye.

    _Par._ Why, man, I was light-hearted in my prime,
    I am light-hearted now; what would you have?
    Aprile was a poet, I make songs--
    'T is the very augury of success I want!
    Why should I not be joyous now as then?

    _Fest._ Joyous! and how? and what remains for joy?
    You have declared the ends (which I am sick
    Of naming) are impracticable.

    _Par._                        Ay,
    Pursued as I pursued them--the arch-fool!
    Listen: my plan will please you not, 't is like,
    But you are little versed in the world's ways.
    This is my plan--(first drinking its good luck)--
    I will accept all helps; all I despised
    So rashly at the outset, equally
    With early impulses, late years have quenched:
    I have tried each way singly: now for both!
    All helps! no one sort shall exclude the rest.
    I seek to know and to enjoy at once,
    Not one without the other as before.
    Suppose my labor should seem God's own cause
    Once more, as first I dreamed,--it shall not balk me
    Of the meanest earthliest sensualest delight
    That may be snatched; for every joy is gain,
    And gain is gain, however small. My soul
    Can die then, nor be taunted--"what was gained?"
    Nor, on the other hand, should pleasure follow
    As though I had not spurned her hitherto,
    Shall she o'ercloud my spirit's rapt communion
    With the tumultuous past, the teeming future,
    Glorious with visions of a full success.

    _Fest._ Success!

    _Par._ And wherefore not? Why not prefer
    Results obtained in my best state of being,
    To those derived alone from seasons dark
    As the thoughts they bred? When I was best, my youth
    Unwasted, seemed success not surest too?
    It is the nature of darkness to obscure.
    I am a wanderer: I remember well
    One journey, how I feared the track was missed,
    So long the city I desired to reach
    Lay hid; when suddenly its spires afar
    Flashed through the circling clouds; you may conceive
    My transport. Soon the vapors closed again,
    But I had seen the city, and one such glance
    No darkness could obscure: nor shall the present--
    A few dull hours, a passing shame or two,
    Destroy the vivid memories of the past.
    I will fight the battle out; a little spent
    Perhaps, but still an able combatant.
    You look at my gray hair and furrowed brow?
    But I can turn even weakness to account:
    Of many tricks I know, 't is not the least
    To push the ruins of my frame, whereon
    The fire of vigor trembles scarce alive,
    Into a heap, and send the flame aloft.
    What should I do with age? So, sickness lends
    An aid; it being, I fear, the source of all
    We boast of: mind is nothing but disease,
    And natural health is ignorance.

    _Fest._                          I see
    But one good symptom in this notable scheme.
    I feared your sudden journey had in view
    To wreak immediate vengeance on your foes.
    'T is not so: I am glad.

    _Par._                   And if I please
    To spit on them, to trample them, what then?
    'T is sorry warfare truly, but the fools
    Provoke it. I would spare their self-conceit,
    But if they must provoke me, cannot suffer
    Forbearance on my part, if I may keep
    No quality in the shade, must needs put forth
    Power to match power, my strength against their strength,
    And teach them their own game with their own arms--
    Why, be it so and let them take their chance!
    I am above them like a god, there's no
    Hiding the fact: what idle scruples, then,
    Were those that ever bade me soften it,
    Communicate it gently to the world,
    Instead of proving my supremacy,
    Taking my natural station o'er their head,
    Then owning all the glory was a man's!
    --And in my elevation man's would be.
    But live and learn, though life 's short, learning hard!
    And therefore, though the wreck of my past self,
    I fear, dear Pütter, that your lecture-room
    Must wait awhile for its best ornament,
    The penitent empiric, who set up
    For somebody, but soon was taught his place;
    Now, but too happy to be let confess
    His error, snuff the candles, and illustrate
    (_Fiat experientia corpore vili_)
    Your medicine's soundness in his person. Wait,
    Good Pütter!

    _Fest._      He who sneers thus, is a god!

    _Par._ Ay, ay, laugh at me! I am very glad
    You are not gulled by all this swaggering; you
    Can see the root of the matter!--how I strive
    To put a good face on the overthrow
    I have experienced, and to bury and hide
    My degradation in its length and breadth;
    How the mean motives I would make you think
    Just mingle as is due with nobler aims,
    The appetites I modestly allow
    May influence me as being mortal still--
    Do goad me, drive me on, and fast supplant
    My youth's desires. You are no stupid dupe:
    You find me out! Yes, I had sent for you
    To palm these childish lies upon you, Festus!
    Laugh--you shall laugh at me!

    _Fest._                       The past, then, Aureole,
    Proves nothing? Is our interchange of love
    Yet to begin? Have I to swear I mean
    No flattery in this speech or that? For you,
    Whate'er you say, there is no degradation;
    These low thoughts are no inmates of your mind,
    Or wherefore this disorder? You are vexed
    As much by the intrusion of base views,
    Familiar to your adversaries, as they
    Were troubled should your qualities alight
    Amid their murky souls: not otherwise,
    A stray wolf which the winter forces down
    From our bleak hills, suffices to affright
    A village in the vales--while foresters
    Sleep calm, though all night long the famished troop
    Snuff round and scratch against their crazy huts.
    These evil thoughts are monsters, and will flee.

    _Par._ May you be happy, Festus, my own friend!

    _Fest._ Nay, further; the delights you fain would think
    The superseders of your nobler aims,
    Though ordinary and harmless stimulants,
    Will ne'er content you....

    _Par._                     Hush! I once despised them,
    But that soon passes. We are high at first
    In our demand, nor will abate a jot
    Of toil's strict value; but time passes o'er,
    And humbler spirits accept what we refuse:
    In short, when some such comfort is doled out
    As these delights, we cannot long retain
    Bitter contempt which urges us at first
    To hurl it back, but hug it to our breast
    And thankfully retire. This life of mine
    Must be lived out and a grave thoroughly earned:
    I am just fit for that and naught beside.
    I told you once, I cannot now enjoy,
    Unless I deem my knowledge gains through joy;
    Nor can I know, but straight warm tears reveal
    My need of linking also joy to knowledge:
    So, on I drive, enjoying all I can,
    And knowing all I can. I speak, of course,
    Confusedly; this will better explain--feel here!
    Quick beating, is it not?--a fire of the heart
    To work off some way, this as well as any.
    So, Festus sees me fairly launched; his calm
    Compassionate look might have disturbed me once,
    But now, far from rejecting, I invite
    What bids me press the closer, lay myself
    Open before him, and be soothed with pity;
    I hope, if he command hope, and believe
    As he directs me--satiating myself
    With his enduring love. And Festus quits me
    To give place to some credulous disciple
    Who holds that God is wise, but Paracelsus
    Has his peculiar merits: I suck in
    That homage, chuckle o'er that admiration,
    And then dismiss the fool; for night is come,
    And I betake myself to study again,
    Till patient searchings after hidden lore
    Half wring some bright truth from its prison; my frame
    Trembles, my forehead's veins swell out, my hair
    Tingles for triumph. Slow and sure the morn
    Shall break on my pent room and dwindling lamp
    And furnace dead, and scattered earths and ores;
    When, with a failing heart and throbbing brow,
    I must review my captured truth, sum up
    Its value, trace what ends to what begins,
    Its present power with its eventual bearings,
    Latent affinities, the views it opens,
    And its full length in perfecting my scheme.
    I view it sternly circumscribed, cast down
    From the high place my fond hopes yielded it,
    Proved worthless--which, in getting, yet had cost
    Another wrench to this fast-falling frame.
    Then, quick, the cup to quaff, that chases sorrow!
    I lapse back into youth, and take again
    My fluttering pulse for evidence that God
    Means good to me, will make my cause his own.
    See! I have cast off this remorseless care
    Which clogged a spirit born to soar so free,
    And my dim chamber has become a tent,
    Festus is sitting by me, and his Michal . . .
    Why do you start? I say, she listening here,
    (For yonder--Würzburg through the orchard-bough!)
    Motions as though such ardent words should find
    No echo in a maiden's quiet soul,
    But her pure bosom heaves, her eyes fill fast
    With tears, her sweet lips tremble all the while!
    Ha, ha!

    _Fest._ It seems, then, you expect to reap
    No unreal joy from this your present course,
    But rather . . .

    _Par._           Death! To die! I owe that much
    To what, at least, I was. I should be sad
    To live contented after such a fall,
    To thrive and fatten after such reverse!
    The whole plan is a makeshift, but will last
    My time.

    _Fest._ And you have never mused and said,
    "I had a noble purpose, and the strength
    To compass it; but I have stopped half-way,
    And wrongly given the first-fruits of my toil
    To objects little worthy of the gift.
    Why linger round them still? why clench my fault?
    Why seek for consolation in defeat,
    In vain endeavors to derive a beauty
    From ugliness? why seek to make the most
    Of what no power can change, nor strive instead
    With mighty effort to redeem the past
    And, gathering up the treasures thus cast down,
    To hold a steadfast course till I arrive
    At their fit destination and my own?"
    You have never pondered thus?

    _Par._                        Have I, you ask?
    Often at midnight, when most fancies come,
    Would some such airy project visit me:
    But ever at the end ... or will you hear
    The same thing in a tale, a parable?
    You and I, wandering over the world wide,
    Chance to set foot upon a desert coast.
    Just as we cry, "No human voice before
    Broke the inveterate silence of these rocks!"
    --Their querulous echo startles us; we turn:
    What ravaged structure still looks o'er the sea?
    Some characters remain, too! While we read,
    The sharp salt wind, impatient for the last
    Of even this record, wistfully comes and goes,
    Or sings what we recover, mocking it.
    This is the record; and my voice, the wind's.
                                    [_He sings._
        Over the sea our galleys went,
      With cleaving prows in order brave
      To a speeding wind and a bounding wave
        A gallant armament:
      Each bark built out of a forest-tree
        Left leafy and rough as first it grew,
      And nailed all over the gaping sides,
      Within and without, with black bull-hides,
      Seethed in fat and suppled in flame,
      To bear the playful billows' game:
      So, each good ship was rude to see,
      Rude and bare to the outward view,
        But each upbore a stately tent
      Where cedar pales in scented row
      Kept out the flakes of the dancing brine,
      And an awning drooped the mast below,
      In fold on fold of the purple fine,
      That neither noontide nor starshine
      Nor moonlight cold which maketh mad,
        Might pierce the regal tenement.
      When the sun dawned, oh, gay and glad
      We set the sail and plied the oar;
      But when the night-wind blew like breath,
      For joy of one day's voyage more,
      We sang together on the wide sea,
      Like men at peace on a peaceful shore;
      Each sail was loosed to the wind so free,
      Each helm made sure by the twilight star,
      And in a sleep as calm as death,
      We, the voyagers from afar,
        Lay stretched along, each weary crew
      In a circle round its wondrous tent
      Whence gleamed soft light and curled rich scent,
        And with light and perfume, music too:
      So the stars wheeled round, and the darkness past,
      And at morn we started beside the mast,
      And still each ship was sailing fast.

      Now, one morn, land appeared--a speck
      Dim trembling betwixt sea and sky:
      "Avoid it," cried our pilot, "check
        The shout, restrain the eager eye!"
      But the heaving sea was black behind
      For many a night and many a day,
      And land, though but a rock, drew nigh;
      So, we broke the cedar pales away,
      Let the purple awning flap in the wind,
        And a statue bright was on every deck!
      We shouted, every man of us,
      And steered right into the harbor thus,
      With pomp and pæan glorious.

      A hundred shapes of lucid stone!
        All day we built its shrine for each,
      A shrine of rock for every one,
      Nor paused till in the westering sun
        We sat together on the beach
      To sing because our task was done.
      When lo! what shouts and merry songs!
      What laughter all the distance stirs!
      A loaded raft with happy throngs
      Of gentle islanders!
      "Our isles are just at hand," they cried,
        "Like cloudlets faint in even sleeping,
      Our temple-gates are opened wide,
        Our olive-groves thick shade are keeping
      For these majestic forms"--they cried.
      Oh, then we awoke with sudden start
      From our deep dream, and knew, too late,
      How bare the rock, how desolate,
      Which had received our precious freight:
        Yet we called out--"Depart!
      Our gifts, once given, must here abide.
        Our work is done; we have no heart
      To mar our work,"--we cried.

    _Fest._ In truth?

    _Par._                 Nay, wait: all this in tracings faint
    On rugged stones strewn here and there, but piled
    In order once: then follows--mark what follows!
    "The sad rhyme of the men who proudly clung
    To their first fault, and withered in their pride."

    _Fest._ Come back then, Aureole; as you fear God, come!
    This is foul sin; come back! Renounce the past,
    Forswear the future; look for joy no more,
    But wait death's summons amid holy sights,
    And trust me for the event--peace, if not joy.
    Return with me to Einsiedeln, dear Aureole!

    _Par._ No way, no way! it would not turn to good.
    A spotless child sleeps on the flowering moss--
    'T is well for him; but when a sinful man,
    Envying such slumber, may desire to put
    His guilt away, shall he return at once
    To rest by lying there? Our sires knew well
    (Spite of the grave discoveries of their sons)
    The fitting course for such: dark cells, dim lamps,
    A stone floor one may writhe on like a worm:
    No mossy pillow blue with violets!

    _Fest._ I see no symptom of these absolute
    And tyrannous passions. You are calmer now.
    This verse-making can purge you well enough
    Without the terrible penance you describe.
    You love me still: the lusts you fear will never
    Outrage your friend. To Einsiedeln, once more!
    Say but the word!

    _Par._            No, no; those lusts forbid:
    They crouch, I know, cowering with half-shut eye
    Beside you; 't is their nature. Thrust yourself
    Between them and their prey; let some fool style me
    Or king or quack, it matters not--then try
    Your wisdom, urge them to forego their treat!
    No, no; learn better and look deeper, Festus!
    If you knew how a devil sneers within me
    While you are talking now of this, now that,
    As though we differed scarcely save in trifles!

    _Fest._ Do we so differ? True, change must proceed,
    Whether for good or ill; keep from me, which!
    Do not confide all secrets: I was born
    To hope, and you ...

    _Par._           To trust: you know the fruits!

    _Fest._ Listen: I do believe, what you call trust
    Was self-delusion at the best: for, see!
    So long as God would kindly pioneer
    A path for you, and screen you from the world,
    Procure you full exemption from man's lot,
    Man's common hopes and fears, on the mere pretext
    Of your engagement in his service--yield you
    A limitless license, make you God, in fact,
    And turn your slave--you were content to say
    Most courtly praises! What is it, at last,
    But selfishness without example? None
    Could trace God's will so plain as you, while yours
    Remained implied in it; but now you fail,
    And we, who prate about that will, are fools!
    In short, God's service is established here
    As he determines fit, and not your way,
    And this you cannot brook. Such discontent
    Is weak. Renounce all creatureship at once!
    Affirm an absolute right to have and use
    Your energies; as though the rivers should say--
    "We rush to the ocean; what have we to do
    With feeding streamlets, lingering in the vales,
    Sleeping in lazy pools?" Set up that plea,
    That will be bold at least!

    _Par._                      'T is like enough.
    The serviceable spirits are those, no doubt,
    The East produces: lo, the master bids,--
    They wake, raise terraces and garden-grounds
    In one night's space; and, this done, straight begin
    Another century's sleep, to the great praise
    Of him that framed them wise and beautiful,
    Till a lamp's rubbing, or some chance akin,
    Wake them again. I am of different mould.
    I would have soothed my lord, and slaved for him
    And done him service past my narrow bond,
    And thus I get rewarded for my pains!
    Beside, 't is vain to talk of forwarding
    God's glory otherwise; this is alone
    The sphere of its increase, as far as men
    Increase it; why, then, look beyond this sphere?
    We are his glory; and if we be glorious,
    Is not the thing achieved?

    _Fest._                    Shall one like me
    Judge hearts like yours? Though years have changed you much,
    And you have left your first love, and retain
    Its empty shade to veil your crooked ways,
    Yet I still hold that you have honored God.
    And who shall call your course without reward?
    For, wherefore this repining at defeat
    Had triumph ne'er inured you to high hopes?
    I urge you to forsake the life you curse,
    And what success attends me?--simply talk
    Of passion, weakness and remorse; in short,
    Anything but the naked truth--you choose
    This so-despised career, and cheaply hold
    My happiness, or rather other men's.
    Once more, return!

    _Par._             And quickly. John the thief
    Has pilfered half my secrets by this time:
    And we depart by daybreak. I am weary,
    I know not how; not even the wine-cup soothes
    My brain to-night ...
    Do you not thoroughly despise me, Festus?
    No flattery! One like you needs not be told
    We live and breathe deceiving and deceived.
    Do you not scorn me from your heart of hearts,
    Me and my cant, each petty subterfuge,
    My rhymes and all this frothy shower of words,
    My glozing self-deceit, my outward crust
    Of lies which wrap, as tetter, morphew, furfur
    Wrap the sound flesh?--so, see you flatter not!
    Even God flatters: but my friend, at least,
    Is true. I would depart, secure henceforth
    Against all further insult, hate and wrong
    From puny foes; my one friend's scorn shall brand me:
    No fear of sinking deeper!

    _Fest._                    No, dear Aureole!
    No, no; I came to counsel faithfully.
    There are old rules, made long ere we were born.
    By which I judge you. I, so fallible,
    So infinitely low beside your mighty
    Majestic spirit!--even I can see
    You own some higher law than ours which call
    Sin, what is no sin--weakness, what is strength.
    But I have only these, such as they are,
    To guide me; and I blame you where they bid,
    Only so long as blaming promises
    To win peace for your soul: the more, that sorrow
    Has fallen on me of late, and they have helped me
    So that I faint not under my distress.
    But wherefore should I scruple to avow
    In spite of all, as brother judging brother,
    Your fate is most inexplicable to me?
    And should you perish without recompense
    And satisfaction yet--too hastily
    I have relied on love: you may have sinned,
    But you have loved. As a mere human matter--
    As I would have God deal with fragile men
    In the end--I say that you will triumph yet!

    _Par._ Have you felt sorrow, Festus?--'t is because
    You love me. Sorrow, and sweet Michal yours!
    Well thought on: never let her know this last
    Dull winding-up of all: these miscreants dared
    Insult me--me she loved:--so, grieve her not!

    _Fest._ Your ill success can little grieve her now.

    _Par._ Michal is dead! pray Christ we do not craze!

    _Fest._ Aureole, dear Aureole, look not on me thus!
    Fool, fool! this is the heart grown sorrow-proof--
    I cannot bear those eyes.

    _Par._                    Nay, really dead?

    _Fest._ 'T is scarce a month.

    _Par._ Stone dead!--then you have laid her
    Among the flowers ere this. Now, do you know,
    I can reveal a secret which shall comfort
    Even you. I have no julep, as men think,
    To cheat the grave; but a far better secret.
    Know, then, you did not ill to trust your love
    To the cold earth: I have thought much of it.
    For I believe we do not wholly die.

    _Fest._ Aureole!

    _Par._           Nay, do not laugh; there is a reason
    For what I say: I think the soul can never
    Taste death. I am, just now, as you may see,
    Very unfit to put so strange a thought
    In an intelligible dress of words;
    But take it as my trust, she is not dead.

    _Fest._ But not on this account alone? you surely,
    --Aureole, you have believed this all along?

    _Par._ And Michal sleeps among the roots and dews,
    While I am moved at Basel, and full of schemes
    For Nuremberg, and hoping and despairing,
    As though it mattered how the farce plays out,
    So it be quickly played. Away, away!
    Have your will, rabble! while we fight the prize,
    Troop you in safety to the snug back-seats
    And leave a clear arena for the brave
    About to perish for your sport!--Behold!


    SCENE, _Salzburg: a cell in the Hospital of St. Sebastian._


    _Fest._ No change! The weary night is well-nigh spent,
    The lamp burns low, and through the casement-bars
    Gray morning glimmers feebly: yet no change!
    Another night, and still no sigh has stirred
    That fallen discolored mouth, no pang relit
    Those fixed eyes, quenched by the decaying body,
    Like torch-flame choked in dust. While all beside
    Was breaking, to the last they held out bright,
    As a stronghold where life intrenched itself;
    But they are dead now--very blind and dead:
    He will drowse into death without a groan.

    My Aureole--my forgotten, ruined Aureole!
    The days are gone, are gone! How grand thou wast!
    And now not one of those who struck thee down--
    Poor glorious spirit--concerns him even to stay
    And satisfy himself his little hand
    Could turn God's image to a livid thing.

    Another night, and yet no change! 'T is much
    That I should sit by him, and bathe his brow,
    And chafe his hands; 't is much: but he will sure
    Know me, and look on me, and speak to me
    Once more--but only once! His hollow cheek
    Looked all night long as though a creeping laugh
    At his own state were just about to break
    From the dying man: my brain swam, my throat swelled,
    And yet I could not turn away. In truth,
    They told me how, when first brought here, he seemed
    Resolved to live, to lose no faculty;
    Thus striving to keep up his shattered strength,
    Until they bore him to this stifling cell:
    When straight his features fell, an hour made white
    The flushed face, and relaxed the quivering limb,
    Only the eye remained intense awhile
    As though it recognized the tomb-like place,
    And then he lay as here he lies.
                                     Ay, here!
    Here is earth's noblest, nobly garlanded--
    Her bravest champion with his well-won prize--
    Her best achievement, her sublime amends
    For countless generations fleeting fast
    And followed by no trace;--the creature-god
    She instances when angels would dispute
    The title of her brood to rank with them.
    Angels, this is our angel! Those bright forms
    We clothe with purple, crown and call to thrones,
    Are human, but not his; those are but men
    Whom other men press round and kneel before;
    Those palaces are dwelt in by mankind;
    Higher provision is for him you seek
    Amid our pomps and glories: see it here!
    Behold earth's paragon! Now, raise thee, clay!

    God! Thou art love! I build my faith on that.
    Even as I watch beside thy tortured child
    Unconscious whose hot tears fall fast by him,
    So doth thy right hand guide us through the world
    Wherein we stumble. God! what shall we say?
    How has he sinned? How else should he have done?
    Surely he sought thy praise--thy praise, for all
    He might be busied by the task so much
    As half forget awhile its proper end.
    Dost thou well, Lord? Thou canst not but prefer
    That I should range myself upon his side--
    How could he stop at every step to set
    Thy glory forth? Hadst thou but granted him
    Success, thy honor would have crowned success,
    A halo round a star. Or, say he erred,--
    Save him, dear God; it will be like thee: bathe him
    In light and life! Thou art not made like us;
    We should be wroth in such a case; but thou
    Forgivest--so, forgive these passionate thoughts
    Which come unsought and will not pass away!
    I know thee, who hast kept my path, and made
    Light for me in the darkness, tempering sorrow
    So that it reached me like a solemn joy;
    It were too strange that I should doubt thy love.
    But what am I? Thou madest him and knowest
    How he was fashioned. I could never err
    That way: the quiet place beside thy feet,
    Reserved for me, was ever in my thoughts:
    But he--thou shouldst have favored him as well!

    Ah! he wakens! Aureole, I am here! 't is Festus!
    I cast away all wishes save one wish--
    Let him but know me, only speak to me!
    He mutters; louder and louder; any other
    Than I, with brain less laden, could collect
    What he pours forth. Dear Aureole, do but look!
    Is it talking or singing, this he utters fast?
    Misery that he should fix me with his eye,
    Quick talking to some other all the while!
    If he would husband this wild vehemence
    Which frustrates its intent!--I heard, I know
    I heard my name amid those rapid words.
    Oh, he will know me yet! Could I divert
    This current, lead it somehow gently back
    Into the channels of the past!--His eye
    Brighter than ever! It must recognize me!

    I am Erasmus: I am here to pray
    That Paracelsus use his skill for me.
    The schools of Paris and of Padua send
    These questions for your learning to resolve.
    We are your students, noble master: leave
    This wretched cell, what business have you here?
    Our class awaits you; come to us once more!
    (O agony! the utmost I can do
    Touches him not; how else arrest his ear?)
    I am commissioned ... I shall craze like him.
    Better be mute and see what God shall send.

    _Par._ Stay, stay with me!

    _Fest._                    I will; I am come here
    To stay with you--Festus, you loved of old;
    Festus, you know, you must know!

    _Par._                           Festus! Where's
    Aprile, then? Has he not chanted softly
    The melodies I heard all night? I could not
    Get to him for a cold hand on my breast,
    But I made out his music well enough,
    O well enough! If they have filled him full
    With magical music, as they freight a star
    With light, and have remitted all his sin,
    They will forgive me too, I too shall know!

    _Fest._ Festus, your Festus!

    _Par._                       Ask him if Aprile
    Knows as he Loves--if I shall Love and Know?
    I try; but that cold hand, like lead--so cold!

    _Fest._ My hand, see!

    _Par._                Ah, the curse, Aprile, Aprile!
    We get so near--so very, very near!
    'T is an old tale: Jove strikes the Titans down,
    Not when they set about their mountain-piling
    But when another rock would crown the work.
    And Phaeton--doubtless his first radiant plunge
    Astonished mortals, though the gods were calm,
    And Jove prepared his thunder: all old tales!

    _Fest._ And what are these to you?

    _Par._                             Ay, fiends must laugh
    So cruelly, so well! most like I never
    Could tread a single pleasure underfoot,
    But they were grinning by my side, were chuckling
    To see me toil and drop away by flakes!
    Hell-spawn! I am glad, most glad, that thus I fail!
    Your cunning has o'ershot its aim. One year,
    One month, perhaps, and I had served your turn!
    You should have curbed your spite awhile. But now,
    Who will believe 't was you that held me back?
    Listen: there 's shame and hissing and contempt,
    And none but laughs who names me, none but spits
    Measureless scorn upon me, me alone,
    The quack, the cheat, the liar,--all on me!
    And thus your famous plan to sink mankind
    In silence and despair, by teaching them
    One of their race had probed the inmost truth,
    Had done all man could do, yet failed no less--
    Your wise plan proves abortive. Men despair?
    Ha, ha! why, they are hooting the empiric,
    The ignorant and incapable fool who rushed
    Madly upon a work beyond his wits;
    Nor doubt they but the simplest of themselves
    Could bring the matter to triumphant issue.
    So, pick and choose among them all, accursed!
    Try now, persuade some other to slave for you,
    To ruin body and soul to work your ends!
    No, no; I am the first and last, I think.

    _Fest._ Dear friend, who are accursed? who has done ...

    _Par._ What have I done? Fiends dare ask that? or you,
    Brave men? Oh, you can chime in boldly, backed
    By the others! What had you to do, sage peers?
    Here stand my rivals; Latin, Arab, Jew,
    Greek, join dead hands against me: all I ask
    Is, that the world enroll my name with theirs,
    And even this poor privilege, it seems,
    They range themselves, prepared to disallow.
    Only observe! why, fiends may learn from them!
    How they talk calmly of my throes, my fierce
    Aspirings, terrible watchings, each one claiming
    Its price of blood and brain; how they dissect
    And sneeringly disparage the few truths
    Got at a life's cost; they too hanging the while
    About my neck, their lies misleading me
    And their dead names browbeating me! Gray crew,
    Yet steeped in fresh malevolence from hell,
    Is there a reason for your hate? My truths
    Have shaken a little the palm about each prince?
    Just think, Aprile, all these leering dotards
    Were bent on nothing less than to be crowned
    As we! That yellow blear-eyed wretch in chief
    To whom the rest cringe low with feigned respect,
    Galen of Pergamos and hell--nay speak
    The tale, old man! We met there face to face:
    I said the crown should fall from thee. Once more
    We meet as in that ghastly vestibule:
    Look to my brow! Have I redeemed my pledge?

    _Fest._ Peace, peace; ah, see!

    _Par._                         Oh, emptiness of fame!
    O Persic Zoroaster, lord of stars!
    --Who said these old renowns, dead long ago,
    Could make me overlook the living world
    To gaze through gloom at where they stood, indeed,
    But stand no longer? What a warm light life
    After the shade! In truth, my delicate witch,
    My serpent-queen, you did but well to hide
    The juggles I had else detected. Fire
    May well run harmless o'er a breast like yours!
    The cave was not so darkened by the smoke
    But that your white limbs dazzled me: oh, white
    And panting as they twinkled, wildly dancing!
    I cared not for your passionate gestures then,
    But now I have forgotten the charm of charms,
    The foolish knowledge which I came to seek,
    While I remember that quaint dance; and thus
    I am come back, not for those mummeries,
    But to love you, and to kiss your little feet
    Soft as an ermine's winter coat!

    _Fest._                           A light
    Will struggle through these thronging words at last,
    As in the angry and tumultuous West
    A soft star trembles through the drifting clouds.
    These are the strivings of a spirit which hates
    So sad a vault should coop it, and calls up
    The past to stand between it and its fate.
    Were he at Einsiedeln--or Michal here!

    _Par._ Cruel! I seek her now--I kneel--I shriek--
    I clasp her vesture--but she fades, still fades;
    And she is gone; sweet human love is gone!
    'T is only when they spring to heaven that angels
    Reveal themselves to you; they sit all day
    Beside you, and lie down at night by you
    Who care not for their presence, muse or sleep,
    And all at once they leave you, and you know them!
    We are so fooled, so cheated! Why, even now
    I am not too secure against foul play;
    The shadows deepen and the walls contract:
    No doubt some treachery is going on.
    'T is very dusk. Where are we put, Aprile?
    Have they left us in the lurch? This murky loathsome
    Death-trap, this slaughter-house, is not the hall
    In the golden city! Keep by me, Aprile!
    There is a hand groping amid the blackness
    To catch us. Have the spider-fingers got you,
    Poet? Hold on me for your life! If once
    They pull you!--Hold!
                          'T is but a dream--no more!
    I have you still; the sun comes out again;
    Let us be happy: all will yet go well!
    Let us confer: is it not like, Aprile,
    That spite of trouble, this ordeal passed,
    The value of my labors ascertained,
    Just as some stream foams long among the rocks
    But after glideth glassy to the sea,
    So, full content shall henceforth be my lot?
    What think you, poet? Louder! Your clear voice
    Vibrates too like a harp-string. Do you ask
    How could I still remain on earth, should God
    Grant me the great approval which I seek?
    I, you, and God can comprehend each other,
    But men would murmur, and with cause enough;
    For when they saw me, stainless of all sin,
    Preserved and sanctified by inward light,
    They would complain that comfort, shut from them,
    I drank thus unespied; that they live on,
    Nor taste the quiet of a constant joy,
    For ache and care and doubt and weariness,
    While I am calm; help being vouchsafed to me,
    And hid from them.--'T were best consider that!
    You reason well, Aprile; but at least
    Let me know this, and die! Is this too much?
    I will learn this, if God so please, and die!

    If thou shalt please, dear God, if thou shalt please!
    We are so weak, we know our motives least
    In their confused beginning. If at first
    I sought ... but wherefore bare my heart to thee?
    I know thy mercy; and already thoughts
    Flock fast about my soul to comfort it,
    And intimate I cannot wholly fail,
    For love and praise would clasp me willingly
    Could I resolve to seek them. Thou art good,
    And I should be content. Yet--yet first show
    I have done wrong in daring! Rather give
    The supernatural consciousness of strength
    Which fed my youth! Only one hour of that,
    With thee to help--O what should bar me then!

    Lost, lost! Thus things are ordered here! God's creatures,
    And yet he takes no pride in us!--none, none!
    Truly there needs another life to come!
    If this be all--(I must tell Festus that)
    And other life await us not--for one,
    I say 't is a poor cheat, a stupid bungle,
    A wretched failure. I, for one, protest
    Against it, and I hurl it back with scorn.

    Well, onward though alone! Small time remains,
    And much to do: I must have fruit, must reap
    Some profit from my toils. I doubt my body
    Will hardly serve me through; while I have labored
    It has decayed; and now that I demand
    Its best assistance, it will crumble fast:
    A sad thought, a sad fate! How very full
    Of wormwood 't is, that just at altar-service,
    The rapt hymn rising with the rolling smoke,
    When glory dawns and all is at the best,
    The sacred fire may flicker and grow faint
    And die for want of a wood-piler's help!
    Thus fades the flagging body, and the soul
    Is pulled down in the overthrow. Well, well--
    Let men catch every word, let them lose naught
    Of what I say; something may yet be done.
    They are ruins! Trust me who am one of you!
    All ruins, glorious once, but lonely now.
    It makes my heart sick to behold you crouch
    Beside your desolate fane: the arches dim,
    The crumbling columns grand against the moon,
    Could I but rear them up once more--but that
    May never be, so leave them! Trust me, friends,
    Why should you linger here when I have built
    A far resplendent temple, all your own?
    Trust me, they are but ruins! See, Aprile,
    Men will not heed! Yet were I not prepared
    With better refuge for them, tongue of mine
    Should ne'er reveal how blank their dwelling is:
    I would sit down in silence with the rest.

    Ha, what? you spit at me, you grin and shriek
    Contempt into my ear--my ear which drank
    God's accents once? you curse me? Why men, men,
    I am not formed for it! Those hideous eyes
    Will be before me sleeping, waking, praying,
    They will not let me even die. Spare, spare me,
    Sinning or no, forget that, only spare me
    The horrible scorn! You thought I could support it.
    But now you see what silly fragile creature
    Cowers thus. I am not good nor bad enough,
    Not Christ nor Cain, yet even Cain was saved
    From Hate like this. Let me but totter back!
    Perhaps I shall elude those jeers which creep
    Into my very brain, and shut these scorched
    Eyelids and keep those mocking faces out.

    Listen, Aprile! I am very calm:
    Be not deceived, there is no passion here
    Where the blood leaps like an imprisoned thing:
    I am calm: I will exterminate the race!
    Enough of that: 't is said and it shall be.
    And now be merry: safe and sound am I
    Who broke through their best ranks to get at you.
    And such a havoc, such a rout, Aprile!

    _Fest._ Have you no thought, no memory for me,
    Aureole? I am so wretched--my pure Michal
    Is gone, and you alone are left me now,
    And even you forget me. Take my hand--
    Lean on me thus. Do you not know me, Aureole?

    _Par._ Festus, my own friend, you are come at last?
    As you say, 't is an awful enterprise;
    But you believe I shall go through with it:
    'T is like you, and I thank you. Thank him for me,
    Dear Michal! See how bright St. Saviour's spire
    Flames in the sunset; all its figures quaint
    Gay in the glancing light: you might conceive them
    A troop of yellow-vested white-haired Jews
    Bound for their own land where redemption dawns.

    _Fest._ Not that blest time--not our youth's time, dear God!

    _Par._ Ha--stay! true, I forget--all is done since,
    And he is come to judge me. How he speaks,
    How calm, how well! yes, it is true, all true;
    All quackery; all deceit; myself can laugh
    The first at it, if you desire: but still
    You know the obstacles which taught me tricks
    So foreign to my nature--envy and hate,
    Blind opposition, brutal prejudice,
    Bald ignorance--what wonder if I sunk
    To humor men the way they most approved?
    My cheats were never palmed on such as you,
    Dear Festus! I will kneel if you require me,
    Impart the meagre knowledge I possess,
    Explain its bounded nature, and avow
    My insufficiency--whate'er you will:
    I give the fight up: let there be an end,
    A privacy, an obscure nook for me.
    I want to be forgotten even by God.
    But if that cannot be, dear Festus, lay me,
    When I shall die, within some narrow grave,
    Not by itself--for that would be too proud--
    But where such graves are thickest; let it look
    Nowise distinguished from the hillocks round,
    So that the peasant at his brother's bed
    May tread upon my own and know it not;
    And we shall all be equal at the last,
    Or classed according to life's natural ranks,
    Fathers, sons, brothers, friends--not rich, nor wise,
    Nor gifted: lay me thus, then say, "He lived
    Too much advanced before his brother men;
    They kept him still in front: 't was for their good,
    But yet a dangerous station. It were strange
    That he should tell God he had never ranked
    With men: so, here at least he is a man."

    _Fest._ That God shall take thee to his breast, dear spirit,
    Unto his breast, be sure! and here on earth
    Shall splendor sit upon thy name forever.
    Sun! all the heaven is glad for thee: what care
    If lower mountains light their snowy phares
    At thine effulgence, yet acknowledge not
    The source of day? Their theft shall be their bale:
    For after-ages shall retrack thy beams,
    And put aside the crowd of busy ones
    And worship thee alone--the master-mind,
    The thinker, the explorer, the creator!
    Then, who should sneer at the convulsive throes
    With which thy deeds were born, would scorn as well
    The sheet of winding subterraneous fire
    Which, pent and writhing, sends no less at last
    Huge islands up amid the simmering sea.
    Behold thy might in me! thou hast infused
    Thy soul in mine; and I am grand as thou,
    Seeing I comprehend thee--I so simple,
    Thou so august. I recognize thee first;
    I saw thee rise, I watched thee early and late,
    And though no glance reveal thou dost accept
    My homage--thus no less I proffer it,
    And bid thee enter gloriously thy rest.

    _Par_. Festus!

    _Fest._        I am for noble Aureole, God!
    I am upon his side, come weal or woe.
    His portion shall be mine. He has done well.
    I would have sinned, had I been strong enough,
    As he has sinned. Reward him or I waive
    Reward! If thou canst find no place for him,
    He shall be king elsewhere, and I will be
    His slave forever. There are two of us.

    _Par._ Dear Festus!

    _Fest._         Here, dear Aureole! ever by you!

    _Par._ Nay, speak on, or I dream again. Speak on!
    Some story, anything--only your voice.
    I shall dream else. Speak on! ay, leaning so!

    _Fest._ Thus the Mayne glideth
        Where my Love abideth.
        Sleep 's no softer: it proceeds
        On through lawns, on through meads,
        On and on, whate'er befall,
        Meandering and musical,
        Though the niggard pasturage
        Bears not on its shaven ledge
        Aught but weeds and waving grasses
        To view the river as it passes,
        Save here and there a scanty patch
        Of primroses too faint to catch
        A weary bee.

    _Par._ More, more; say on!

    _Fest._           And scarce it pushes
        Its gentle way through strangling rushes
        Where the glossy kingfisher
        Flutters when noon-heats are near,
        Glad the shelving banks to shun,
        Red and steaming in the sun,
        Where the shrew-mouse with pale throat
        Burrows, and the speckled stoat;
        Where the quick sandpipers flit
        In and out the marl and grit
        That seems to breed them, brown as they:
        Naught disturbs its quiet way,
        Save some lazy stork that springs,
        Trailing it with legs and wings,
        Whom the shy fox from the hill
        Rouses, creep he ne'er so still.

    _Par._ My heart! they loose my heart, those simple words;
    Its darkness passes, which naught else could touch:
    Like some dark snake that force may not expel,
    Which glideth out to music sweet and low.
    What were you doing when your voice broke through
    A chaos of ugly images? You, indeed!
    Are you alone here?

    _Fest._         All alone: you know me?
    This cell?

    _Par._ An unexceptionable vault:
    Good brick and stone: the bats kept out, the rats
    Kept in: a snug nook: how should I mistake it?

    _Fest._ But wherefore am I here?

    _Par._                 Ah, well remembered!
    Why, for a purpose--for a purpose, Festus!
    'T is like me: here I trifle while time fleets,
    And this occasion, lost, will ne'er return.
    You are here to be instructed. I will tell
    God's message; but I have so much to say,
    I fear to leave half out. All is confused
    No doubt; but doubtless you will learn in time.
    He would not else have brought you here: no doubt
    I shall see clearer soon.

    _Fest._              Tell me but this--
    You are not in despair?

    _Par._                    I? and for what?

    _Fest._ Alas, alas! he knows not, as I feared!

    _Par._ What is it you would ask me with that earnest
    Dear searching face?

    _Fest._         How feel you, Aureole?

    _Par._                                 Well:
    Well. 'T is a strange thing: I am dying, Festus,
    And now that fast the storm of life subsides,
    I first perceive how great the whirl has been.
    I was calm then, who am so dizzy now--
    Calm in the thick of the tempest, but no less
    A partner of its motion and mixed up
    With its career. The hurricane is spent,
    And the good boat speeds through the brightening weather;
    But is it earth or sea that heaves below?
    The gulf rolls like a meadow-swell, o'erstrewn
    With ravaged boughs and remnants of the shore;
    And now some islet, loosened from the land,
    Swims past with all its trees, sailing to ocean;
    And now the air is full of uptorn canes,
    Light strippings from the fan-trees, tamarisks
    Unrooted, with their birds still clinging to them,
    All high in the wind. Even so my varied life
    Drifts by me; I am young, old, happy, sad,
    Hoping, desponding, acting, taking rest,
    And all at once: that is, those past conditions
    Float back at once on me. If I select
    Some special epoch from the crowd, 't is but
    To will, and straight the rest dissolve away,
    And only that particular state is present
    With all its long-forgotten circumstance
    Distinct and vivid as at first--myself
    A careless looker-on and nothing more,
    Indifferent and amused, but nothing more.
    And this is death: I understand it all.
    New being waits me; new perceptions must
    Be born in me before I plunge therein;
    Which last is Death's affair; and while I speak,
    Minute by minute he is filling me
    With power; and while my foot is on the threshold
    Of boundless life--the doors unopened yet,
    All preparations not complete within--
    I turn new knowledge upon old events,
    And the effect is ... but I must not tell;
    It is not lawful. Your own turn will come
    One day. Wait, Festus! You will die like me.

    _Fest._ 'T is of that past life that I burn to hear.

    _Par._ You wonder it engages me just now?
    In truth, I wonder too. What's life to me?
    Where'er I look is fire, where'er I listen
    Music, and where I tend bliss evermore.
    Yet how can I refrain? 'T is a refined
    Delight to view those chances,--one last view.
    I am so near the perils I escape,
    That I must play with them and turn them over,
    To feel how fully they are past and gone.
    Still, it is like, some further cause exists
    For this peculiar mood--some hidden purpose;
    Did I not tell you something of it, Festus?
    I had it fast, but it has somehow slipt
    Away from me; it will return anon.

    _Fest._ (Indeed his cheek seems young again, his voice
    Complete with its old tones: that little laugh
    Concluding every phrase, with upturned eye,
    As though one stooped above his head to whom
    He looked for confirmation and approval,
    Where was it gone so long, so well preserved?
    Then, the forefinger pointing as he speaks,
    Like one who traces in an open book
    The matter he declares; 't is many a year
    Since I remarked it last: and this in him,
    But now a ghastly wreck!)
                              And can it be,
    Dear Aureole, you have then found out at last
    That worldly things are utter vanity?
    That man is made for weakness, and should wait
    In patient ignorance, till God appoint ...

    _Par._ Ha, the purpose: the true purpose: that is it!
    How could I fail to apprehend! You here,
    I thus! But no more trifling: I see all,
    I know all: my last mission shall be done
    If strength suffice. No trifling! Stay; this posture
    Hardly befits one thus about to speak:
    I will arise.

    _Fest._    Nay, Aureole, are you wild?
    You cannot leave your couch.

    _Par._                  No help; no help;
    Not even your hand. So! there, I stand once more!
    Speak from a couch? I never lectured thus.
    My gown--the scarlet lined with fur; now put
    The chain about my neck; my signet-ring
    Is still upon my hand, I think--even so;
    Last, my good sword; ah, trusty Azoth, leapest
    Beneath thy master's grasp for the last time?
    This couch shall be my throne: I bid these walls
    Be consecrate, this wretched cell become
    A shrine, for here God speaks to men through me.
    Now, Festus, I am ready to begin.

    _Fest._ I am dumb with wonder.

    _Par._                     Listen, therefore, Festus!
    There will be time enough, but none to spare.
    I must content myself with telling only
    The most important points. You doubtless feel
    That I am happy, Festus; very happy.

    _Fest._ 'T is no delusion which uplifts him thus!
    Then you are pardoned, Aureole, all your sin?

    _Par._ Ay, pardoned: yet why pardoned?

    _Fest._                    'T is God's praise
    That man is bound to seek, and you ...

    _Par._                         Have lived!
    We have to live alone to set forth well
    God's praise. 'T is true, I sinned much, as I thought,
    And in effect need mercy, for I strove
    To do that very thing; but, do your best
    Or worst, praise rises, and will rise forever.
    Pardon from him, because of praise denied--
    Who calls me to himself to exalt himself?
    He might laugh as I laugh!

    _Fest._               But all comes
    To the same thing. 'T is fruitless for mankind
    To fret themselves with what concerns them not;
    They are no use that way: they should lie down
    Content as God has made them, nor go mad
    In thriveless cares to better what is ill.

    _Par._ No, no; mistake me not; let me not work
    More harm than I have worked! This is my case:
    If I go joyous back to God, yet bring
    No offering, if I render up my soul
    Without the fruits it was ordained to bear,
    If I appear the better to love God
    For sin, as one who has no claim on him,
    Be not deceived! It may be surely thus
    With me, while higher prizes still await
    The mortal persevering to the end.
    Beside I am not all so valueless:
    I have been something, though too soon I left
    Following the instincts of that happy time.

    _Fest._ What happy time? For God's sake, for man's sake,
    What time was happy? All I hope to know
    That answer will decide. What happy time?

    _Par._ When but the time I vowed myself to man?

    _Fest._ Great God, thy judgments are inscrutable!

    _Par._ Yes, it was in me; I was born for it--
    I, Paracelsus: it was mine by right.
    Doubtless a searching and impetuous soul
    Might learn from its own motions that some task
    Like this awaited it about the world;
    Might seek somewhere in this blank life of ours
    For fit delights to stay its longings vast;
    And, grappling Nature, so prevail on her
    To fill the creature full she dared thus frame
    Hungry for joy; and, bravely tyrannous,
    Grow in demand, still craving more and more,
    And make each joy conceded prove a pledge
    Of other joy to follow--bating naught
    Of its desires, still seizing fresh pretence
    To turn the knowledge and the rapture wrung
    As an extreme, last boon, from destiny,
    Into occasion for new covetings,
    New strifes, new triumphs:--doubtless a strong soul,
    Alone, unaided might attain to this,
    So glorious is our nature, so august
    Man's inborn uninstructed impulses,
    His naked spirit so majestical!
    But this was born in me; I was made so;
    Thus much time saved: the feverish appetites,
    The tumult of unproved desire, the unaimed
    Uncertain yearnings, aspirations blind,
    Distrust, mistake, and all that ends in tears
    Were saved me; thus I entered on my course.
    You may be sure I was not all exempt
    From human trouble; just so much of doubt
    As bade me plant a surer foot upon
    The sun-road, kept my eye unruined 'mid
    The fierce and flashing splendor, set my heart
    Trembling so much as warned me I stood there
    On sufferance--not to idly gaze, but cast
    Light on a darkling race; save for that doubt,
    I stood at first where all aspire at last
    To stand: the secret of the world was mine.
    I knew, I felt, (perception unexpressed,
    Uncomprehended by our narrow thought,
    But somehow felt and known in every shift
    And change in the spirit,--nay, in every pore
    Of the body, even,)--what God is, what we are,
    What life is--how God tastes an infinite joy
    In infinite ways--one everlasting bliss,
    From whom all being emanates, all power
    Proceeds; in whom is life forevermore,
    Yet whom existence in its lowest form
    Includes; where dwells enjoyment there is he;
    With still a flying point of bliss remote,
    A happiness in store afar, a sphere
    Of distant glory in full view; thus climbs
    Pleasure its heights forever and forever.
    The centre-fire heaves underneath the earth,
    And the earth changes like a human face;
    The molten ore bursts up among the rocks,
    Winds into the stone's heart, outbranches bright
    In hidden mines, spots barren river-beds,
    Crumbles into fine sand where sunbeams bask--
    God joys therein. The wroth sea's waves are edged
    With foam, white as the bitten lip of hate,
    When, in the solitary waste, strange groups
    Of young volcanos come up, cyclops-like,
    Staring together with their eyes on flame--
    God tastes a pleasure in their uncouth pride.
    Then all is still; earth is a wintry clod:
    But spring-wind, like a dancing psaltress, passes
    Over its breast to waken it, rare verdure
    Buds tenderly upon rough banks, between
    The withered tree-roots and the cracks of frost,
    Like a smile striving with a wrinkled face;
    The grass grows bright, the boughs are swoln with blooms
    Like chrysalids impatient for the air,
    The shining dorrs are busy, beetles run
    Along the furrows, ants make their ado;
    Above, birds fly in merry flocks, the lark
    Soars up and up, shivering for very joy;
    Afar the ocean sleeps; white fishing-gulls
    Flit where the strand is purple with its tribe
    Of nested limpets; savage creatures seek
    Their loves in wood and plain--and God renews
    His ancient rapture. Thus he dwells in all,
    From life's minute beginnings, up at last
    To man--the consummation of this scheme
    Of being, the completion of this sphere
    Of life: whose attributes had here and there
    Been scattered o'er the visible world before,
    Asking to be combined, dim fragments meant
    To be united in some wondrous whole,
    Imperfect qualities throughout creation,
    Suggesting some one creature yet to make,
    Some point where all those scattered rays should meet
    Convergent in the faculties of man.
    Power--neither put forth blindly, nor controlled
    Calmly by perfect knowledge; to be used
    At risk, inspired or checked by hope and fear:
    Knowledge--not intuition, but the slow
    Uncertain fruit of an enhancing toil,
    Strengthened by love: love--not serenely pure,
    But strong from weakness, like a chance-sown plant
    Which, cast on stubborn soil, puts forth changed buds
    And softer stains, unknown in happier climes;
    Love which endures and doubts and is oppressed
    And cherished, suffering much and much sustained,
    And blind, oft-failing, yet believing love,
    A half-enlightened, often-checkered trust:--
    Hints and previsions of which faculties,
    Are strewn confusedly everywhere about
    The inferior natures, and all lead up higher,
    All shape out dimly the superior race,
    The heir of hopes too fair to turn out false,
    And man appears at last. So far the seal
    Is put on life; one stage of being complete,
    One scheme wound up: and from the grand result
    A supplementary reflux of light,
    Illustrates all the inferior grades, explains
    Each back step in the circle. Not alone
    For their possessor dawn those qualities,
    But the new glory mixes with the heaven
    And earth; man, once descried, imprints forever
    His presence on all lifeless things: the winds
    Are henceforth voices, wailing or a shout,
    A querulous mutter or a quick gay laugh,
    Never a senseless gust now man is born.
    The herded pines commune and have deep thoughts,
    A secret they assemble to discuss
    When the sun drops behind their trunks which glare
    Like grates of hell: the peerless cup afloat
    Of the lake-lily is an urn, some nymph
    Swims bearing high above her head: no bird
    Whistles unseen, but through the gaps above
    That let light in upon the gloomy woods,
    A shape peeps from the breezy forest-top,
    Arch with small puckered mouth and mocking eye.
    The morn has enterprise, deep quiet droops
    With evening, triumph takes the sunset hour,
    Voluptuous transport ripens with the corn
    Beneath a warm moon like a happy face:
    --And this to fill us with regard for man,
    With apprehension of his passing worth,
    Desire to work his proper nature out,
    And ascertain his rank and final place,
    For these things tend still upward, progress is
    The law of life, man is not Man as yet.
    Nor shall I deem his object served, his end
    Attained, his genuine strength put fairly forth,
    While only here and there a star dispels
    The darkness, here and there a towering mind
    O'erlooks its prostrate fellows: when the host
    Is out at once to the despair of night,
    When all mankind alike is perfected,
    Equal in full-blown powers--then, not till then,
    I say, begins man's general infancy.
    For wherefore make account of feverish starts
    Of restless members of a dormant whole,
    Impatient nerves which quiver while the body
    Slumbers as in a grave? Oh, long ago
    The brow was twitched, the tremulous lids astir,
    The peaceful mouth disturbed; half uttered speech
    Ruffled the lip, and then the teeth were set,
    The breath drawn sharp, the strong right-hand clenched stronger,
    As it would pluck a lion by the jaw;
    The glorious creature laughed out even in sleep!
    But when full roused, each giant-limb awake,
    Each sinew strung, the great heart pulsing fast,
    He shall start up and stand on his own earth,
    Then shall his long triumphant march begin,
    Thence shall his being date,--thus wholly roused.
    What he achieves shall be set down to him.
    When all the race is perfected alike
    As man, that is; all tended to mankind,
    And, man produced, all has its end thus far:
    But in completed man begins anew
    A tendency to God. Prognostics told
    Man's near approach; so in man's self arise
    August anticipations, symbols, types
    Of a dim splendor ever on before
    In that eternal circle life pursues.
    For men begin to pass their nature's bound,
    And find new hopes and cares which fast supplant
    Their proper joys and griefs; they grow too great
    For narrow creeds of right and wrong, which fade
    Before the unmeasured thirst for good: while peace
    Rises within them ever more and more.
    Such men are even now upon the earth,
    Serene amid the half-formed creatures round
    Who should be saved by them and joined with them.
    Such was my task, and I was born to it--
    Free, as I said but now, from much that chains
    Spirits, high-dowered but limited and vexed
    By a divided and delusive aim,
    A shadow mocking a reality
    Whose truth avails not wholly to disperse
    The flitting mimic called up by itself,
    And so remains perplexed and nigh put out
    By its fantastic fellow's wavering gleam.
    I, from the first, was never cheated thus;
    I never fashioned out a fancied good
    Distinct from man's; a service to be done,
    A glory to be ministered unto
    With powers put forth at man's expense, withdrawn
    From laboring in his behalf; a strength
    Denied that might avail him. I cared not
    Lest his success ran counter to success
    Elsewhere: for God is glorified in man,
    And to man's glory vowed I soul and limb.
    Yet, constituted thus, and thus endowed,
    I failed: I gazed on power till I grew blind.
    Power; I could not take my eyes from that:
    That only, I thought, should be preserved, increased
    At any risk, displayed, struck out at once--
    The sign and note and character of man.
    I saw no use in the past: only a scene
    Of degradation, ugliness and tears,
    The record of disgraces best forgotten,
    A sullen page in human chronicles
    Fit to erase. I saw no cause why man
    Should not stand all-sufficient even now,
    Or why his annals should be forced to tell
    That once the tide of light, about to break
    Upon the world, was sealed within its spring:
    I would have had one day, one moment's space,
    Change man's condition, push each slumbering claim
    Of mastery o'er the elemental world
    At once to full maturity, then roll
    Oblivion o'er the work, and hide from man
    What night had ushered morn. Not so, dear child
    Of after-days, wilt thou reject the past
    Big with deep warnings of the proper tenure
    By which thou hast the earth: for thee the present
    Shall have distinct and trembling beauty, seen
    Beside that past's own shade when, in relief,
    Its brightness shall stand out: nor yet on thee
    Shall burst the future, as successive zones
    Of several wonder open on some spirit
    Flying secure and glad from heaven to heaven:
    But thou shalt painfully attain to joy,
    While hope and fear and love shall keep thee man!
    All this was hid from me: as one by one
    My dreams grew dim, my wide aims circumscribed,
    As actual good within my reach decreased,
    While obstacles sprung up this way and that
    To keep me from effecting half the sum,
    Small as it proved; as objects, mean within
    The primal aggregate, seemed, even the least,
    Itself a match for my concentred strength--
    What wonder if I saw no way to shun
    Despair? The power I sought for man, seemed God's.
    In this conjuncture, as I prayed to die,
    A strange adventure made me know, one sin
    Had spotted my career from its uprise;
    I saw Aprile--my Aprile there!
    And as the poor melodious wretch disburdened
    His heart, and moaned his weakness in my ear,
    I learned my own deep error; love's undoing
    Taught me the worth of love in man's estate,
    And what proportion love should hold with power
    In his right constitution; love preceding
    Power, and with much power, always much more love;
    Love still too straitened in his present means,
    And earnest for new power to set love free.
    I learned this, and supposed the whole was learned:
    And thus, when men received with stupid wonder
    My first revealings, would have worshipped me,
    And I despised and loathed their proffered praise--
    When, with awakened eyes, they took revenge
    For past credulity in casting shame
    On my real knowledge, and I hated them--
    It was not strange I saw no good in man,
    To overbalance all the wear and waste
    Of faculties, displayed in vain, but born
    To prosper in some better sphere: and why?
    In my own heart love had not been made wise
    To trace love's faint beginnings in mankind,
    To know even hate is but a mask of love's,
    To see a good in evil, and a hope
    In ill-success; to sympathize, be proud
    Of their half-reasons, faint aspirings, dim
    Struggles for truth, their poorest fallacies,
    Their prejudice and fears and cares and doubts;
    All with a touch of nobleness, despite
    Their error, upward tending all though weak,
    Like plants in mines which never saw the sun,
    But dream of him, and guess where he may be,
    And do their best to climb and get to him.
    All this I knew not, and I failed. Let men
    Regard me, and the poet dead long ago
    Who loved too rashly; and shape forth a third
    And better-tempered spirit, warned by both:
    As from the over-radiant star too mad
    To drink the life-springs, beamless thence itself--
    And the dark orb which borders the abyss,
    Ingulfed in icy night,--might have its course,
    A temperate and equidistant world.
    Meanwhile, I have done well, though not all well.
    As yet men cannot do without contempt;
    'T is for their good, and therefore fit awhile
    That they reject the weak, and scorn the false,
    Rather than praise the strong and true, in me:
    But after, they will know me. If I stoop
    Into a dark tremendous sea of cloud,
    It is but for a time; I press God's lamp
    Close to my breast; its splendor, soon or late,
    Will pierce the gloom: I shall emerge one day.
    You understand me? I have said enough!

    _Fest._ Now die, dear Aureole!

    _Par._                         Festus, let my hand--
    This hand, lie in your own, my own true friend!
    Aprile! Hand in hand with you, Aprile!

           *       *       *       *       *

    _Fest._ And this was Paracelsus!






LONDON, APRIL 23, 1837

_Paracelsus_ found an enthusiastic reader in the actor Macready, who
begged Browning to write him a play, even suggesting the subject to
him, which did not awaken the poet's interest. More than a year passed,
when the two met at a supper given by Macready after the successful
presentation of Talfourd's _Ion_. As the guests were leaving, Macready
said to Browning: "Write a play, Browning, and keep me from going to
America." "Shall it be historical and English?" replied Browning. "What
do you say to a drama on Strafford?" and the poet now had his subject.
His choice is readily explained by the fact that he was at this time
helping his friend John Forster with his Life of Strafford contained
in _Lives of Eminent British Statesmen_. Indeed, Mr. Furnivall says
without hesitation that the agreement of the Strafford of the play
with the Strafford of Forster's biography is due to the fact that
Browning wrote the whole of the Life of Strafford after the first seven

When the play was rehearsing Browning gave Macready a lilt which he had
composed for the children's song in Act V. It was not used, because
the two children who were to sing wished a more pretentious song. The
lilt which Browning composed was purposely no more than a _crooning_
measure. He afterward gave it to Miss Hickey for her special edition of
_Strafford_, and it is reproduced here in its place. The following is
Browning's preface to the first edition:--

"I had for some time been engaged in a Poem of a very different
nature, when induced to make the present attempt; and am not without
apprehension that my eagerness to freshen a jaded mind by diverting it
to the healthy natures of a grand epoch, may have operated unfavorably
on the represented play, which is one of Action in Character, rather
than Character in Action. To remedy this, in some degree, considerable
curtailment will be necessary, and, in a few instances, the supplying
details not required, I suppose, by the mere reader. While a trifling
success would much gratify, failure will not wholly discourage me from
another effort: experience is to come; and earnest endeavor may yet
remove many disadvantages.

"The portraits are, I think, faithful; and I am exceedingly fortunate
in being able, in proof of this, to refer to the subtle and eloquent
exposition of the characters of Eliot and Strafford, in the _Lives
of Eminent British Statesmen_, now in the course of publication in
Lardner's _Cyclopedia_, by a writer [John Forster] whom I am proud
to call my friend; and whose biographies of Hampden, Pym, and Vane,
will, I am sure, fitly illustrate the present year--the Second
Centenary of the Trial concerning Ship-Money. My Carlisle, however, is
purely imaginary: I at first sketched her singular likeness roughly
in, as suggested by Matthews and the memoir-writers--but it was too
artificial, and the substituted outline is exclusively from Voiture and

"The Italian boat-song in the last scene is from Redi's 'Bacco,' long
since naturalized in the joyous and delicate version of Leigh Hunt."


    Earl of HOLLAND.
    Lord SAVILE.
    The younger VANE.
    Earl of LOUDON.
    MAXWELL, _Usher of the Black Rod._
    BALFOUR, _Constable of the Tower._
    Queen HENRIETTA.
    LUCY PERCY, _Countess of Carlisle._
    Presbyterians, Scots Commissioners, Adherents of Strafford,
      Secretaries, Officers of the Court, etc.
    Two of Stafford's CHILDREN.

       *       *       *       *       *


    SCENE I. _A House near Whitehall._ HAMPDEN, HOLLIS, _the_ younger
    VANE, RUDYARD, FIENNES _and many of the Presbyterian Party:_ LOUDON
    _and other Scots Commissioners._

    _Vane._ I say, if he be here--

    _Rudyard._                     (And he is here!)--

    _Hollis._ For England's sake let every man be still
    Nor speak of him, so much as say his name,
    Till Pym rejoin us! Rudyard! Henry Vane!
    One rash conclusion may decide our course
    And with it England's fate--think--England's fate!
    Hampden, for England's sake they should be still!

    _Vane._ You say so, Hollis? Well, I must be still.
    It is indeed too bitter that one man,
    Any one man's mere presence, should suspend
    England's combined endeavor: little need
    To name him!

    _Rud._    For you are his brother, Hollis!

    _Hampden._ Shame on you, Rudyard! time to tell him that
    When he forgets the Mother of us all.

    _Rud._ Do I forget her?

    _Hamp._                You talk idle hate
    Against her foe: is that so strange a thing?
    Is hating Wentworth all the help she needs?

    _A Puritan._ The Philistine strode, cursing as he went:
    But David--five smooth pebbles from the brook
    Within his scrip ...

    _Rud._         Be you as still as David!

    _Fiennes._ Here 's Rudyard not ashamed to wag a tongue
    Stiff with ten years' disuse of Parliaments;
    Why, when the last sat, Wentworth sat with us!

    _Rud._ Let 's hope for news of them now he returns--
    He that was safe in Ireland, as we thought!
    --But I 'll abide Pym's coming.

    _Vane._                  Now, by Heaven,
    Then may be cool who can, silent who will--
    Some have a gift that way! Wentworth is here,
    Here, and the King's safe closeted with him
    Ere this. And when I think on all that 's past
    Since that man left us, how his single arm
    Rolled the advancing good of England back
    And set the woeful past up in its place,
    Exalting Dagon where the Ark should be,--
    How that man has made firm the fickle King
    (Hampden, I will speak out!)--in aught he feared
    To venture on before; taught tyranny
    Her dismal trade, the use of all her tools,
    To ply the scourge yet screw the gag so close
    That strangled agony bleeds mute to death--
    How he turns Ireland to a private stage
    For training infant villanies, new ways
    Of wringing treasure out of tears and blood,
    Unheard oppressions nourished in the dark
    To try how much man's nature can endure
    --If he dies under it, what harm? if not,
    Why, one more trick is added to the rest
    Worth a king's knowing, and what Ireland bears
    England may learn to bear:--how all this while
    That man has set himself to one dear task,
    The bringing Charles to relish more and more
    Power, power without law, power and blood too
    --Can I be still?

    _Hamp._      For that you should be still.

    _Vane._ Oh Hampden, then and now! The year he left us,
    The People in full Parliament could wrest
    The Bill of Rights from the reluctant King;
    And now, he 'll find in an obscure small room
    A stealthy gathering of great-hearted men
    That take up England's cause: England is here!

    _Hamp._ And who despairs of England?

    _Rud._                             That do I,
    If Wentworth comes to rule her. I am sick
    To think her wretched masters, Hamilton,
    The muckworm Cottington, the maniac Laud,
    May yet be longed-for back again. I say,
    I do despair.

    _Vane._      And, Rudyard, I 'll say this--
    Which all true men say after me, not loud
    But solemnly and as you 'd say a prayer!
    This King, who treads our England underfoot,
    Has just so much ... it may be fear or craft,
    As bids him pause at each fresh outrage; friends,
    He needs some sterner hand to grasp his own,
    Some voice to ask, "Why shrink? Am I not by?"
    Now, one whom England loved for serving her,
    Found in his heart to say, "I know where best
    The iron heel shall bruise her, for she leans
    Upon me when you trample." Witness, you!
    So Wentworth heartened Charles, so England fell.
    But inasmuch as life is hard to take
    From England ...

    _Many Voices._ Go on, Vane! 'T is well said, Vane!

    _Vane._ Who has not so forgotten Runnymede!--

    _Voices._ 'T is well and bravely spoken, Vane! Go on!

    _Vane._ There are some little signs of late she knows
    The ground no place for her. She glances round,
    Wentworth has dropped the hand, is gone his way
    On other service: what if she arise?
    No! the King beckons, and beside him stands
    The same bad man once more, with the same smile
    And the same gesture. Now shall England crouch,
    Or catch at us and rise?

    _Voices._          The Renegade!
    Haman! Ahithophel!

    _Hamp._     Gentlemen of the North,
    It was not thus the night your claims were urged,
    And we pronounced the League and Covenant,
    The cause of Scotland, England's cause as well:
    Vane there, sat motionless the whole night through.

    _Vane._ Hampden!

    _Fien._     Stay, Vane!

    _Loudon._       Be just and patient, Vane!

    _Vane._ Mind how you counsel patience, Loudon! you
    Have still a Parliament, and this your League
    To back it; you are free in Scotland still:
    While we are brothers, hope 's for England yet.
    But know you wherefore Wentworth comes? to quench
    This last of hopes? that he brings war with him?
    Know you the man's self? what he dares?

    _Lou._                         We know,
    All know--'t is nothing new.

    _Vane._            And what 's new, then,
    In calling for his life? Why, Pym himself--
    You must have heard--ere Wentworth dropped our cause
    He would see Pym first; there were many more
    Strong on the people's side and friends of his,
    Eliot that 's dead, Rudyard and Hampden here,
    But for these Wentworth cared not; only, Pym
    He would see--Pym and he were sworn, 't is said,
    To live and die together; so, they met
    At Greenwich. Wentworth, you are sure, was long,
    Specious enough, the devil's argument
    Lost nothing on his lips; he 'd have Pym own
    A patriot could not play a purer part
    Than follow in his track; they two combined
    Might put down England. Well, Pym heard him out;
    One glance--you know Pym's eye--one word was all:
    "You leave us, Wentworth! while your head is on,
    I 'll not leave you."

    _Hamp._         Has he left Wentworth, then?
    Has England lost him? Will you let him speak,
    Or put your crude surmises in his mouth?
    Away with this! Will you have Pym or Vane?

    _Voices._ Wait Pym's arrival! Pym shall speak.

    _Hamp._                                Meanwhile
    Let Loudon read the Parliament's report
    From Edinburgh: our last hope, as Vane says,
    Is in the stand it makes. Loudon!

    _Vane._                      No, no!
    Silent I can be: not indifferent!

    _Hamp._ Then each keep silence, praying God to spare
    His anger, cast not England quite away
    In this her visitation!

    _A Puritan._       Seven years long
    The Midianite drove Israel into dens
    And caves. Till God sent forth a mighty man,
                    (PYM _enters._)
    Even Gideon!

    _Pym._ Wentworth 's come: nor sickness, care,
    The ravaged body nor the ruined soul,
    More than the winds and waves that beat his ship,
    Could keep him from the King. He has not reached
    Whitehall: they 've hurried up a Council there
    To lose no time and find him work enough.
    Where 's Loudon? your Scots' Parliament ...

    _Lou._                                    Holds firm:
    We were about to read reports.

    _Pym._                    The King
    Has just dissolved your Parliament.

    _Lou. and other Scots._        Great God!
    An oath-breaker! Stand by us, England, then!

    _Pym._ The King 's too sanguine; doubtless Wentworth 's here;
    But still some little form might be kept up.

    _Hamp._ Now speak, Vane! Rudyard, you had much to say!

    _Hol._ The rumor 's false, then ...

    _Pym._                 Ay, the Court gives out
    His own concerns have brought him back: I know
    'T is the King calls him. Wentworth supersedes
    The tribe of Cottingtons and Hamiltons
    Whose part is played; there 's talk enough, by this,--
    Merciful talk, the King thinks: time is now
    To turn the record's last and bloody leaf
    Which, chronicling a nation's great despair,
    Tells they were long rebellious, and their lord
    Indulgent, till, all kind expedients tried,
    He drew the sword on them and reigned in peace.
    Laud 's laying his religion on the Scots
    Was the last gentle entry: the new page
    Shall run, the King thinks, "Wentworth thrust it down
    At the sword's point."

    _A Puritan._      I 'll do your bidding, Pym,
    England's and God's--one blow!

    _Pym._                  A goodly thing--
    We all say, friends, it is a goodly thing
    To right that England. Heaven grows dark above:
    Let 's snatch one moment ere the thunder fall,
    To say how well the English spirit comes out
    Beneath it! All have done their best, indeed,
    From lion Eliot, that grand Englishman,
    To the least here: and who, the least one here,
    When she is saved (for her redemption dawns
    Dimly, most dimly, but it dawns--it dawns)
    Who 'd give at any price his hope away
    Of being named along with the Great Men?
    We would not--no, we would not give that up!

    _Hamp._ And one name shall be dearer than all names,
    When children, yet unborn, are taught that name
    After their fathers',--taught what matchless man ...

    _Pym._ ... Saved England? What if Wentworth's should be still
    That name?

    _Rud. and others._ We have just said it, Pym! His death
    Saves her! We said it--there 's no way beside!
    I 'll do God's bidding, Pym! They struck down Joab
    And purged the land.

    _Vane._        No villanous striking-down!

    _Rud._ No, a calm vengeance: let the whole land rise
    And shout for it. No Feltons!

    _Pym._                   Rudyard, no!
    England rejects all Feltons; most of all
    Since Wentworth ... Hampden, say the trust again
    Of England in her servants--but I 'll think
    You know me, all of you. Then, I believe,
    Spite of the past, Wentworth rejoins you, friends!

    _Vane and others._ Wentworth? Apostate! Judas! Double-dyed
    A traitor! Is it Pym, indeed ...

    _Pym._                   ... Who says
    Vane never knew that Wentworth, loved that man,
    Was used to stroll with him, arm locked in arm,
    Along the streets to see the people pass,
    And read in every island-countenance
    Fresh argument for God against the King,--
    Never sat down, say, in the very house
    Where Eliot's brow grew broad with noble thoughts,
    (You 've joined us, Hampden--Hollis, you as well,)
    And then left talking over Gracchus's death ...

    _Vane._ To frame, we know it well, the choicest clause
    In the Petition of Right: he framed such clause
    One month before he took at the King's hand
    His Northern Presidency, which that Bill

    _Pym._ Too true! Never more, never more
    Walked we together! Most alone I went.
    I have had friends--all here are fast my friends--
    But I shall never quite forget that friend.
    And yet it could not but be real in him!
    You, Vane,--you, Rudyard, have no right to trust
    To Wentworth: but can no one hope with me?
    Hampden, will Wentworth dare shed English blood
    Like water?

    _Hamp._ Ireland is Aceldama.

    _Pym._ Will he turn Scotland to a hunting-ground
    To please the King, now that he knows the King?
    The People or the King? and that King, Charles!

    _Hamp._ Pym, all here know you: you 'll not set your heart
    On any baseless dream. But say one deed
    Of Wentworth's, since he left us ...      [_Shouting without._

    _Vane._                    There! he comes,
    And they shout for him! Wentworth 's at Whitehall,
    The King embracing him, now, as we speak,
    And he, to be his match in courtesies,
    Taking the whole war's risk upon himself,
    Now, while you tell us here how changed he is!
    Hear you?

    _Pym._   And yet if 't is a dream, no more,
    That Wentworth chose their side, and brought the King
    To love it as though Laud had loved it first,
    And the Queen after; that he led their cause
    Calm to success, and kept it spotless through,
    So that our very eyes could look upon
    The travail of our souls, and close content
    That violence, which something mars even right
    Which sanctions it, had taken off no grace
    From its serene regard. Only a dream!

    _Hamp._ We meet here to accomplish certain good
    By obvious means, and keep tradition up
    Of free assemblages, else obsolete,
    In this poor chamber: nor without effect
    Has friend met friend to counsel and confirm,
    As, listening to the beats of England's heart,
    We spoke its wants to Scotland's prompt reply
    By these her delegates. Remains alone
    That word grow deed, as with God's help it shall--
    But with the devil's hindrance, who doubts too?
    Looked we or no that tyranny should turn
    Her engines of oppression to their use?
    Whereof, suppose the worst be Wentworth here--
    Shall we break off the tactics which succeed
    In drawing out our formidablest foe,
    Let bickering and disunion take their place?
    Or count his presence as our conquest's proof,
    And keep the old arms at their steady play?
    Proceed to England's work! Fiennes, read the list!

    _Fien._ Ship-money is refused or fiercely paid
    In every county, save the northern parts
    Where Wentworth's influence ...               [_Shouting._

    _Vane._               I, in England's name,
    Declare her work, this day, at end! Till now,
    Up to this moment, peaceful strife was best.
    We English had free leave to think; till now,
    We had a shadow of a Parliament
    In Scotland. But all 's changed: they change the first,
    They try brute-force for law, they, first of all ...

    _Voices._ Good! Talk enough! The old true hearts with Vane!

    _Vane._ Till we crush Wentworth for her, there 's no act
    Serves England!

    _Voices._   Vane for England!

    _Pym._                        Pym should be
    Something to England. I seek Wentworth, friends.

SCENE II. _Whitehall._


    _Wentworth._ And the King?

    _Lady Carlisle._ Wentworth, lean on me! Sit then!
    I 'll tell you all; this horrible fatigue
    Will kill you.

    _Went._   No;--or, Lucy, just your arm;
    I 'll not sit till I 've cleared this up with him:
    After that, rest. The King?

    _Lady Car._                Confides in you.

    _Went._ Why? or, why now?--They have kind throats, the knaves!
    Shout for me--they!

    _Lady Car._ You come so strangely soon:
    Yet we took measures to keep off the crowd--
    Did they shout for you?

    _Went._               Wherefore should they not?
    Does the King take such measures for himself?
    Beside, there 's such a dearth of malcontents,
    You say!

    _Lady Car._ I said but few dared carp at you.

    _Went._ At me? at us, I hope! The King and I!
    He 's surely not disposed to let me bear
    The fame away from him of these late deeds
    In Ireland? I am yet his instrument
    Be it for well or ill? He trusts me, too!

    _Lady Car._ The King, dear Wentworth, purposes, I said,
    To grant you, in the face of all the Court ...

    _Went._ All the Court! Evermore the Court about us!
    Savile and Holland, Hamilton and Vane
    About us,--then the King: will grant me--what?
    That he for once put these aside and say--
    "Tell me your whole mind, Wentworth!"

    _Lady Car._                         You professed
    You would be calm.

    _Went._           Lucy, and I am calm!
    How else shall I do all I come to do,
    Broken, as you may see, body and mind,
    How shall I serve the King? Time wastes meanwhile,
    You have not told me half. His footstep! No,
    Quick, then, before I meet him,--I am calm--
    Why does the King distrust me?

    _Lady Car._                   He does not
    Distrust you.

    _Went._      Lucy, you can help me; you
    Have even seemed to care for me: one word!
    Is it the Queen?

    _Lady Car._ No, not the Queen: the party
    That poisons the Queen's ear, Savile and Holland.

    _Went._ I know, I know: old Vane, too, he 's one too?
    Go on--and he 's made Secretary. Well?
    Or leave them out and go straight to the charge;
    The charge!

    _Lady Car._ Oh, there 's no charge, no precise charge;
    Only they sneer, make light of--one may say,
    Nibble at what you do.

    _Went._              I know! but, Lucy,
    I reckoned on you from the first!--Go on!
    --Was sure could I once see this gentle friend
    When I arrived, she 'd throw an hour away
    To help her ... what am I?

    _Lady Car._              You thought of me,
    Dear Wentworth?

    _Went._        But go on! The party here!

    _Lady Car._ They do not think your Irish government
    Of that surpassing value ...

    _Went._                     The one thing
    Of value! The one service that the crown
    May count on! All that keeps these very Vanes
    In power, to vex me--not that they do vex,
    Only it might vex some to hear that service
    Decried, the sole support that 's left the King!

    _Lady Car._ So the Archbishop says.

    _Went._                           Ah? well, perhaps
    The only hand held up in my defence
    May be old Laud's! These Hollands then, these Saviles
    Nibble? They nibble?--that 's the very word!

    _Lady Car._ Your profit in the Customs, Bristol says,
    Exceeds the due proportion: while the tax ...

    _Went._ Enough! 't is too unworthy,--I am not
    So patient as I thought! What 's Pym about?

    _Lady Car._ Pym?

    _Went._         Pym and the People.

    _Lady Car._                       Oh, the Faction!
    Extinct--of no account: there 'll never be
    Another Parliament.

    _Went._           Tell Savile that!
    You may know--(ay, you do--the creatures here
    Never forget!) that in my earliest life
    I was not ... much that I am now! The King
    May take my word on points concerning Pym
    Before Lord Savile's, Lucy, or if not,
    I bid them ruin their wise selves, not me,
    These Vanes and Hollands! I 'll not be their tool
    Who might be Pym's friend yet.
                              But there 's the King!
    Where is he?

    _Lady Car._ Just apprised that you arrive.

    _Went._ And why not here to meet me? I was told
    He sent for me, nay, longed for me.

    _Lady Car._                       Because,--
    He is now ... I think a Council 's sitting now
    About this Scots affair.

    _Went._                A Council sits?
    They have not taken a decided course
    Without me in the matter?

    _Lady Car._              I should say ...

    _Went._ The war? They cannot have agreed to that?
    Not the Scots' war?--without consulting me--
    Me, that am here to show how rash it is,
    How easy to dispense with?--Ah, you too
    Against me! well,--the King may take his time.
    --Forget it, Lucy! Cares make peevish: mine
    Weigh me (but 't is a secret) to my grave.

    _Lady Car._ For life or death I am your own,
        dear friend!                              [_Goes out._

    _Went._ Heartless! but all are heartless here. Go now,
    Forsake the People! I did not forsake
    The People: they shall know it, when the King
    Will trust me!--who trusts all beside at once,
    While I have not spoke Vane and Savile fair,
    And am not trusted: have but saved the throne:
    Have not picked up the Queen's glove prettily,
    And am not trusted. But he 'll see me now.
    Weston is dead: the Queen's half English now--
    More English: one decisive word will brush
    These insects from ... the step I know so well!
    The King! But now, to tell him ... no--to ask
    What 's in me he distrusts:--or, best begin
    By proving that this frightful Scots affair
    Is just what I foretold. So much to say,
    And the flesh fails, now, and the time is come,
    And one false step no way to be repaired.
    You were avenged, Pym, could you look on me.

(PYM _enters._)

    _Went._ I little thought of you just then.

    _Pym._                                   No? I
    Think always of you, Wentworth.

    _Went._                      The old voice!
    I wait the King, sir.

    _Pym._              True--you look so pale!
    A Council sits within; when that breaks up
    He 'll see you.

    _Went._ Sir, I thank you.

    _Pym._                   Oh, thank Laud!
    You know when Laud once gets on Church affairs
    The case is desperate: he 'll not be long
    To-day: he only means to prove, to-day,
    We English all are mad to have a hand
    In butchering the Scots for serving God
    After their fathers' fashion: only that!

    _Went._ Sir, keep your jests for those who relish them!
    (Does he enjoy their confidence?) 'T is kind
    To tell me what the Council does.

    _Pym._                           You grudge
    That I should know it had resolved on war
    Before you came? no need: you shall have all
    The credit, trust me!

    _Went._              Have the Council dared--
    They have not dared ... that is--I know you not.
    Farewell, sir: times are changed.

    _Pym._                         --Since we two met
    At Greenwich? Yes: poor patriots though we be,
    You cut a figure, makes some slight return
    For your exploits in Ireland! Changed indeed,
    Could our friend Eliot look from out his grave!
    Ah, Wentworth, one thing for acquaintance' sake,
    Just to decide a question; have you, now,
    Felt your old self since you forsook us?

    _Went._                                 Sir!

    _Pym._ Spare me the gesture! you misapprehend.
    Think not I mean the advantage is with me.
    I was about to say that, for my part,
    I never quite held up my head since then--
    Was quite myself since then: for first, you see,
    I lost all credit after that event
    With those who recollect how sure I was
    Wentworth would outdo Eliot on our side.
    Forgive me: Savile, old Vane, Holland here,
    Eschew plain-speaking: 't is a trick I keep.

    _Went._ How, when, where, Savile, Vane, and Holland speak,
    Plainly or otherwise, would have my scorn,
    All of my scorn, sir ...

    _Pym._               ... Did not my poor thoughts
    Claim somewhat?

    _Went._   Keep your thoughts! believe the King
    Mistrusts me for their prattle, all these Vanes
    And Saviles! make your mind up, o' God's love,
    That I am discontented with the King!

    _Pym._ Why, you may be: I should be, that I know,
    Were I like you.

    _Went._         Like me?

    _Pym._                 I care not much
    For titles: our friend Eliot died no lord,
    Hampden 's no lord, and Savile is a lord;
    But you care, since you sold your soul for one.
    I can 't think, therefore, your soul's purchaser
    Did well to laugh you to such utter scorn
    When you twice prayed so humbly for its price,
    The thirty silver pieces ... I should say,
    The Earldom you expected, still expect,
    And may. Your letters were the movingest!
    Console yourself: I 've borne him prayers just now
    From Scotland not to be oppressed by Laud,
    Words moving in their way: he 'll pay, be sure,
    As much attention as to those you sent.

    _Went._ False, sir! Who showed them you? Suppose it so,
    The King did very well ... nay, I was glad
    When it was shown me: I refused, the first!
    John Pym, you were my friend--forbear me once!

    _Pym._ Oh, Wentworth, ancient brother of my soul,
    That all should come to this!

    _Went._                      Leave me!

    _Pym._                                My friend,
    Why should I leave you?

    _Went._               To tell Rudyard this,
    And Hampden this!

    _Pym._           Whose faces once were bright
    At my approach, now sad with doubt and fear,
    Because I hope in you--yes, Wentworth, you
    Who never mean to ruin England--you
    Who shake off, with God's help, an obscene dream
    In this Ezekiel chamber, where it crept
    Upon you first, and wake, yourself, your true
    And proper self, our Leader, England's Chief,
    And Hampden's friend!
                         This is the proudest day!
    Come, Wentworth! Do not even see the King!
    The rough old room will seem itself again!
    We 'll both go in together: you 've not seen
    Hampden so long: come: and there 's Fiennes: you 'll have
    To know young Vane. This is the proudest day!

     [_The_ KING _enters._ WENTWORTH _lets fall_ PYM'S _hand._

    _Charles._ Arrived, my lord?--This gentleman, we know
    Was your old friend.
                         The Scots shall be informed
    What we determine for their happiness.
                                    [PYM _goes out._
    You have made haste, my lord.

    _Went._                     Sir, I am come ...

    _Cha._ To see an old familiar--nay, 't is well;
    Aid us with his experience: this Scots' League
    And Covenant spreads too far, and we have proofs
    That they intrigue with France: the Faction too,
    Whereof your friend there is the head and front,
    Abets them,--as he boasted, very like.

    _Went._ Sir, trust me! but for this once, trust me, sir!

    _Cha._ What can you mean?

    _Went._                  That you should trust me, sir!
    Oh--not for my sake! but 't is sad, so sad
    That for distrusting me, you suffer--you
    Whom I would die to serve: sir, do you think
    That I would die to serve you?

    _Cha._                        But rise, Wentworth!

    _Went._ What shall convince you? What does Savile do
    To prove him ... Ah, one can 't tear out one's heart
    And show it, how sincere a thing it is!

    _Cha._ Have I not trusted you?

    _Went._                       Say aught but that!
    There is my comfort, mark you: all will be
    So different when you trust me--as you shall!
    It has not been your fault,--I was away,
    Mistook, maligned, how was the King to know?
    I am here, now--he means to trust me, now--
    All will go on so well!

    _Cha._                 Be sure I do--
    I 've heard that I should trust you: as you came,
    Your friend, the Countess, told me ...

    _Went._                               No,--hear nothing--
    Be told nothing about me!--you 're not told
    Your right-hand serves you, or your children love you!

    _Cha._ You love me, Wentworth: rise!

    _Went._                             I can speak now.
    I have no right to hide the truth. 'T is I
    Can save you: only I. Sir, what must be?

    _Cha._ Since Laud 's assured (the minutes are within)
    --Loath as I am to spill my subjects' blood ...

    _Went._ That is, he 'll have a war: what 's done is done!

    _Cha._ They have intrigued with France; that 's clear to Laud.

    _Went._ Has Laud suggested any way to meet
    The war's expense?

    _Cha._            He 'd not decide so far
    Until you joined us.

    _Went._             Most considerate!
    He 's certain they intrigue with France, these Scots?
    The People would be with us.

    _Cha._                      Pym should know.

    _Went._ The People for us--were the People for us!
    Sir, a great thought comes to reward your trust:
    Summon a Parliament! in Ireland first,
    Then, here.

    _Cha._     In truth?

    _Went._             That saves us! that puts off
    The war, gives time to right their grievances--
    To talk with Pym. I know the Faction--Laud
    So styles it--tutors Scotland: all their plans
    Suppose no Parliament: in calling one
    You take them by surprise. Produce the proofs
    Of Scotland's treason; then bid England help:
    Even Pym will not refuse.

    _Cha._                  You would begin
    With Ireland?

    _Went._      Take no care for that: that 's sure
    To prosper.

    _Cha._     You shall rule me. You were best
    Return at once: but take this ere you go!
    Now, do I trust you? You 're an Earl: my Friend
    Of Friends: yes, while ... You hear me not!

    _Went._ Say it all o'er again--but once again:
    The first was for the music: once again!

    _Cha._ Strafford, my friend, there may have been reports,
    Vain rumors. Henceforth touching Strafford is
    To touch the apple of my sight: why gaze
    So earnestly?

    _Went._      I am grown young again,
    And foolish. What was it we spoke of?

    _Cha._                               Ireland,
    The Parliament,--

    _Went._          I may go when I will?

    _Cha._ Are you tired so soon of us?

    _Went._                             My King!
    But you will not so utterly abhor
    A Parliament? I 'd serve you any way.

    _Cha._ You said just now this was the only way.

    _Went._ Sir, I will serve you!

    _Cha._                        Strafford, spare yourself:
    You are so sick, they tell me.

    _Went._                      'T is my soul
    That 's well and prospers now.
                                  This Parliament--
    We 'll summon it, the English one--I 'll care
    For everything. You shall not need them much.

    _Cha._ If they prove restive ...

    _Went._                         I shall be with you.

    _Cha._ Ere they assemble?

    _Went._                  I will come, or else
    Deposit this infirm humanity
    I' the dust. My whole heart stays with you, my King!
        [_As_ WENTWORTH _goes out, the_ QUEEN _enters._

    _Cha._ That man must love me.

    _Queen._                    Is it over then?
    Why, he looks yellower than ever! Well,
    At least we shall not hear eternally
    Of service--services: he 's paid at least.

    _Cha._ Not done with: he engages to surpass
    All yet performed in Ireland.

    _Queen._                     I had thought
    Nothing beyond was ever to be done.
    The war, Charles--will he raise supplies enough?

    _Cha._ We 've hit on an expedient; he ... that is,
    I have advised ... we have decided on
    The calling--in Ireland--of a Parliament.

    _Queen._ O truly! You agree to that? Is that
    The first-fruit of his counsel? But I guessed
    As much.

    _Cha._  This is too idle, Henriette!
    I should know best. He will strain every nerve,
    And once a precedent established ...

    _Queen._                            Notice
    How sure he is of a long term of favor!
    He 'll see the next, and the next after that;
    No end to Parliaments!

    _Cha._                Well, it is done.
    He talks it smoothly, doubtless. If, indeed,
    The Commons here ...

    _Queen._            Here! you will summon them
    Here? Would I were in France again to see
    A King!

    _Cha._ But, Henriette ...

    _Queen._                  Oh, the Scots see clear!
    Why should they bear your rule?

    _Cha._                         But listen, sweet!

    _Queen._ Let Wentworth listen--you confide in him!

    _Cha._ I do not, love,--I do not so confide!
    The Parliament shall never trouble us!
    ... Nay, hear me! I have schemes, such schemes: we 'll buy
    The leaders off: without that, Wentworth's counsel
    Had ne'er prevailed on me. Perhaps I call it
    To have excuse for breaking it forever,
    And whose will then the blame be? See you not?
    Come, dearest!--look, the little fairy, now,
    That cannot reach my shoulder! Dearest, come!

       *       *       *       *       *


SCENE I. (As in Act I. Scene 1.)

_The same Party enters._

    _Rud._ Twelve subsidies!

    _Vane._                O Rudyard, do not laugh
    At least!

    _Rud._ True: Strafford called the Parliament--
    'T is he should laugh!

    _A Puritan._      Out of the serpent's root
    Comes forth a cockatrice.

    _Fien._              --A stinging one,
    If that 's the Parliament: twelve subsidies!
    A stinging one! but, brother, where 's your word
    For Strafford's other nest-egg, the Scots' war?

    _The Puritan._ His fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.

    _Fien._ Shall be? It chips the shell, man; peeps abroad.
    Twelve subsidies!--Why, how now, Vane?

    _Rud._                            Peace, Fiennes!

    _Fien._ Ah?--But he was not more a dupe than I,
    Or you, or any here, the day that Pym
    Returned with the good news. Look up, friend Vane!
    We all believe that Strafford meant us well
    In summoning the Parliament.

                 (HAMPDEN _enters._)

    _Vane._                  Now, Hampden,
    Clear me! I would have leave to sleep again:
    I 'd look the People in the face again:
    Clear me from having, from the first, hoped, dreamed
    Better of Strafford!

    _Hamp._          You may grow one day
    A steadfast light to England, Henry Vane!

    _Rud._ Meantime, by flashes I make shift to see
    Strafford revived our Parliaments; before,
    War was but talked of; there 's an army, now:
    Still, we 've a Parliament! Poor Ireland bears
    Another wrench (she dies the hardest death!)--
    Why, speak of it in Parliament! and lo,
    'T is spoken, so console yourselves!

    _Fien._                         The jest!
    We clamored, I suppose, thus long, to win
    The privilege of laying on our backs
    A sorer burden than the King dares lay.

    _Rud._ Mark now: we meet at length, complaints pour in
    From every county, all the land cries out
    On loans and levies, curses ship-money,
    Calls vengeance on the Star Chamber; we lend
    An ear. "Ay, lend them all the ears you have!"
    Puts in the King; "my subjects, as you find,
    Are fretful, and conceive great things of you.
    Just listen to them, friends; you 'll sanction me
    The measures they most wince at, make them yours,
    Instead of mine, I know: and, to begin,
    They say my levies pinch them,--raise me straight
    Twelve subsidies!"

    _Fien._        All England cannot furnish
    Twelve subsidies!

    _Hol._       But Strafford, just returned
    From Ireland--what has he to do with that?
    How could he speak his mind? He left before
    The Parliament assembled. Pym, who knows
    Strafford ...

    _Rud._   Would I were sure we know ourselves!
    What is for good, what, bad--who friend, who foe!

    _Hol._ Do you count Parliaments no gain?

    _Rud._                                   A gain?
    While the King's creatures overbalance us?
    --There 's going on, beside, among ourselves
    A quiet, slow, but most effectual course
    Of buying over, sapping, leavening
    The lump till all is leaven. Glanville's gone.
    I 'll put a case; had not the Court declared
    That no sum short of just twelve subsidies
    Will be accepted by the King--our House,
    I say, would have consented to that offer
    To let us buy off ship-money!

    _Hol._                   Most like,
    If, say, six subsidies will buy it off,
    The House ...

    _Rud._    Will grant them! Hampden, do you hear?
    Congratulate with me! the King's the king,
    And gains his point at last--our own assent
    To that detested tax! All 's over, then
    There 's no more taking refuge in this room,
    Protesting, "Let the King do what he will,
    We, England, are no party to our shame:
    Our day will come!" Congratulate with me!

                   (PYM _enters._)

    _Vane._ Pym, Strafford called this Parliament, you say,
    But we 'll not have our Parliaments like those
    In Ireland, Pym!

    _Rud._       Let him stand forth, your friend!
    One doubtful act hides far too many sins;
    It can be stretched no more, and, to my mind,
    Begins to drop from those it covered.

    _Other Voices._                   Good!
    Let him avow himself! No fitter time!
    We wait thus long for you.

    _Rud._ Perhaps, too long!
    Since nothing but the madness of the Court,
    In thus unmasking its designs at once,
    Has saved us from betraying England. Stay--
    This Parliament is Strafford's: let us vote
    Our list of Grievances too black by far
    To suffer talk of subsidies: or best,
    That ship-money 's disposed of long ago
    By England: any vote that 's broad enough:
    And then let Strafford, for the love of it,
    Support his Parliament!

    _Vane._            And vote as well
    No war to be with Scotland! Hear you, Pym?
    We 'll vote, no war! No part nor lot in it
    For England!

    _Many Voices._ Vote, no war! Stop the new levies!
    No Bishops' war! At once! When next we meet!

    _Pym._ Much more when next we meet! Friends, which of you
    Since first the course of Strafford was in doubt,
    Has fallen the most away in soul from me?

    _Vane._ I sat apart, even now under God's eye,
    Pondering the words that should denounce you, Pym,
    In presence of us all, as one at league
    With England's enemy.

    _Pym._           You are a good
    And gallant spirit, Henry. Take my hand
    And say you pardon me for all the pain
    Till now! Strafford is wholly ours.

    _Many Voices._                 Sure? sure?

    _Pym._ Most sure: for Charles dissolves the Parliament
    While I speak here.
                        --And I must speak, friends, now!
    Strafford is ours. The King detects the change,
    Casts Strafford off forever, and resumes
    His ancient path: no Parliament for us,
    No Strafford for the King!
                               Come, all of you,
    To bid the King farewell, predict success
    To his Scots' expedition, and receive
    Strafford, our comrade now. The next will be
    Indeed a Parliament!

    _Vane._          Forgive me, Pym!

    _Voices._ This looks like truth: Strafford can have, indeed,
    No choice.

    _Pym._     Friends, follow me! He 's with the King.
    Come, Hampden, and come, Rudyard, and come, Vane!
    This is no sullen day for England, sirs!
    Strafford shall tell you!

    _Voices._             To Whitehall then! Come!

SCENE II. _Whitehall._


    _Cha._ Strafford!

    _Strafford._      Is it a dream? my papers, here--
    Thus, as I left them, all the plans you found
    So happy--(look! the track you pressed my hand
    For pointing out)--and in this very room,
    Over these very plans, you tell me, sir,
    With the same face, too--tell me just one thing
    That ruins them! How 's this? What may this mean?
    Sir, who has done this?

    _Cha._             Strafford, who but I?
    You bade me put the rest away: indeed
    You are alone.

    _Straf._    Alone, and like to be!
    No fear, when some unworthy scheme grows ripe,
    Of those, who hatched it, leaving me to loose
    The mischief on the world! Laud hatches war,
    Falls to his prayers, and leaves the rest to me,
    And I 'm alone.

    _Cha._     At least, you knew as much
    When first you undertook the war.

    _Straf._                     My liege,
    Was this the way? I said, since Laud would lap
    A little blood, 't were best to hurry over
    The loathsome business, not to be whole months
    At slaughter--one blow, only one, then, peace,
    Save for the dreams. I said, to please you both
    I 'd lead an Irish army to the West,
    While in the South an English ... but you look
    As though you had not told me fifty times
    'T was a brave plan! My army is all raised,
    I am prepared to join it ...

    _Cha._                   Hear me, Strafford!

    _Straf._ ... When, for some little thing, my whole design
    Is set aside--(where is the wretched paper?)
    I am to lead--(ay, here it is)--to lead
    The English army: why? Northumberland,
    That I appointed, chooses to be sick--
    Is frightened: and, meanwhile, who answers for
    The Irish Parliament? or army, either?
    Is this my plan?

    _Cha._      So disrespectful, sir?

    _Straf._ My liege, do not believe it! I am yours,
    Yours ever: 't is too late to think about:
    To the death, yours. Elsewhere, this untoward step
    Shall pass for mine; the world shall think it mine.
    But here! But here! I am so seldom here,
    Seldom with you, my King! I, soon to rush
    Alone upon a giant in the dark!

    _Cha._ My Strafford!

    _Straf._ [_Examines papers awhile._] "Seize the passes of the Tyne!"
    But, sir, you see--see all I say is true?
    My plan was sure to prosper, so, no cause
    To ask the Parliament for help; whereas
    We need them frightfully.

    _Cha._               Need the Parliament?

    _Straf._ Now, for God's sake, sir, not one error more!
    We can afford no error; we draw, now,
    Upon our last resource: the Parliament
    Must help us!

    _Cha._    I 've undone you, Strafford!

    _Straf._                              Nay--
    Nay--why despond, sir, 't is not come to that!
    I have not hurt you? Sir, what have I said
    To hurt you? I unsay it! Don't despond!
    Sir, do you turn from me?

    _Cha._               My friend of friends!

    _Straf._ We 'll make a shift. Leave me the Parliament!
    Help they us ne'er so little and I 'll make
    Sufficient out of it. We 'll speak them fair.
    They 're sitting, that 's one great thing; that half gives
    Their sanction to us; that 's much: don't despond!
    Why, let them keep their money, at the worst!
    The reputation of the People's help
    Is all we want: we 'll make shift yet!

    _Cha._                         Good Strafford!

    _Straf._ But meantime, let the sum be ne'er so small
    They offer, we 'll accept it: any sum--
    For the look of it: the least grant tells the Scots
    The Parliament is ours--their stanch ally
    Turned ours: that told, there 's half the blow to strike!
    What will the grant be? What does Glanville think?

    _Cha._ Alas!

    _Straf._     My liege?

    _Cha._                 Strafford!

    _Straf._                           But answer me!
    Have they ... Oh surely not refused us half?
    Half the twelve subsidies? We never looked
    For all of them. How many do they give?

    _Cha._ You have not heard ...

    _Straf._     (What has he done?)--Heard what?
    But speak at once, sir, this grows terrible!
                                [_The King continuing silent._
    You have dissolved them!--I 'll not leave this man.

    _Cha._ 'T was old Vane's ill-judged vehemence.

    _Straf._                                  Old Vane?

    _Cha._ He told them, just about to vote the half,
    That nothing short of all twelve subsidies
    Would serve our turn, or be accepted.

    _Straf._                         Vane!
    Vane! Who, sir, promised me, that very Vane ...
    O God, to have it gone, quite gone from me,
    The one last hope--I that despair, my hope--
    That I should reach his heart one day, and cure
    All bitterness one day, be proud again
    And young again, care for the sunshine too,
    And never think of Eliot any more,--
    God, and to toil for this, go far for this,
    Get nearer, and still nearer, reach this heart
    And find Vane there!
        [_Suddenly taking up a paper, and continuing with a
         forced calmness._
                         Northumberland is sick:
    Well, then, I take the army: Wilmot leads
    The horse, and he, with Conway, must secure
    The passes of the Tyne: Ormond supplies
    My place in Ireland. Here, we 'll try the City:
    If they refuse a loan--debase the coin
    And seize the bullion! we 've no other choice.
    Herbert ...
                  And this while I am here! with you!
    And there are hosts such, hosts like Vane! I go,
    And, I once gone, they 'll close around you, sir,
    When the least pique, pettiest mistrust, is sure
    To ruin me--and you along with me!
    Do you see that? And you along with me!
    --Sir, you 'll not ever listen to these men,
    And I away, fighting your battle? Sir,
    If they--if She--charge me, no matter how--
    Say you, "At any time when he returns
    His head is mine!" Don't stop me there! You know
    My head is yours, but never stop me there!

    _Cha._ Too shameful, Strafford! You advised the war,
    And ...

    _Straf._ I! I! that was never spoken with
    Till it was entered on! That loathe the war!
    That say it is the maddest, wickedest ...
    Do you know, sir, I think within my heart,
    That you would say I did advise the war;
    And if, through your own weakness, or, what 's worse,
    These Scots, with God to help them, drive me back,
    You will not step between the raging People
    And me, to say ...
                       I knew it! from the first
    I knew it! Never was so cold a heart!
    Remember that I said it--that I never
    Believed you for a moment!
                            --And, you loved me?
    You thought your perfidy profoundly hid
    Because I could not share the whisperings
    With Vane, with Savile? What, the face was masked?
    I had the heart to see, sir! Face of flesh,
    But heart of stone--of smooth cold frightful stone!
    Ay, call them! Shall I call for you? The Scots
    Goaded to madness? Or the English--Pym--
    Shall I call Pym, your subject? Oh, you think
    I 'll leave them in the dark about it all?
    They shall not know you? Hampden, Pym shall not?
            (PYM, HAMPDEN, VANE, _etc., enter._)
    [_Dropping on his knee._] Thus favored with your gracious countenance
    What shall a rebel League avail against
    Your servant, utterly and ever yours?
    So, gentlemen, the King 's not even left
    The privilege of bidding me farewell
    Who haste to save the People--that you style
    Your People--from the mercies of the Scots
    And France their friend?
    [_To_ CHARLES.] Pym's grave gray eyes are fixed
    Upon you, sir!
                     Your pleasure, gentlemen.

    _Hamp._ The King dissolved us-- 't is the King we seek
    And not Lord Strafford.

    _Straf._            Strafford, guilty too
    Of counselling the measure. [_To_ CHARLES.]
                    (Hush ... you know--
    You have forgotten--sir, I counselled it)
    A heinous matter, truly! But the King
    Will yet see cause to thank me for a course
    Which now, perchance ... (Sir, tell them so!)--he blames.
    Well, choose some fitter time to make your charge:
    I shall be with the Scots, you understand?
    Then yelp at me!
                     Meanwhile, your Majesty
    Binds me, by this fresh token of your trust.

    [_Under the pretence of an earnest farewell,_ STRAFFORD _conducts_
    CHARLES _to the door, in such a manner as to hide his agitation
    from the rest: as the King disappears, they turn as by one impulse
    to_ PYM, _who has not changed his original posture of surprise._

    _Hamp._ Leave we this arrogant strong wicked man!

    _Vane and others._ Hence, Pym! Come out of this unworthy place
    To our old room again! He 's gone.
      [STRAFFORD, _just about to follow the King, looks back._

    _Pym._                       Not gone!

    [_To_ STRAFFORD.] Keep tryst! the old appointment 's
    made anew:
    Forget not we shall meet again!

    _Straf._                   So be it!
    And if an army follows me?

    _Vane._               His friends
    Will entertain your army!

    _Pym._                I' ll not say
    You have misreckoned, Strafford: time shows. Perish
    Body and spirit! Fool to feign a doubt,
    Pretend the scrupulous and nice reserve
    Of one whose prowess shall achieve the feat!
    What share have I in it? Do I affect
    To see no dismal sign above your head
    When God suspends his ruinous thunder there?
    Strafford is doomed. Touch him no one of you!
                [PYM, HAMPDEN, _etc., go out._

    _Straf._ Pym, we shall meet again!
                (Lady CARLISLE _enters._)
                                    You here, child?

    _Lady Car._                                Hush--
    I know it all: hush, Strafford!

    _Straf._                   Ah! you know?
    Well. I shall make a sorry soldier, Lucy!
    All knights begin their enterprise, we read,
    Under the best of auspices; 't is morn,
    The Lady girds his sword upon the Youth
    (He' s always very young)--the trumpets sound,
    Cups pledge him, and, why, the King blesses him--
    You need not turn a page of the romance
    To learn the Dreadful Giant's fate. Indeed,
    We' ve the fair Lady here; but she apart,--
    A poor man, rarely having handled lance,
    And rather old, weary, and far from sure
    His Squires are not the Giant's friends. All' s one:
    Let us go forth!

    _Lady Car._    Go forth?

    _Straf._                   What matters it?
    We shall die gloriously--as the book says.

    _Lady Car._ To Scotland? not to Scotland?

    _Straf._                               Am I sick
    Like your good brother, brave Northumberland?
    Beside, these walls seem falling on me.

    _Lady Car._                        Strafford,
    The wind that saps these walls can undermine
    Your camp in Scotland, too. Whence creeps the wind?
    Have you no eyes except for Pym? Look here!
    A breed of silken creatures lurk and thrive
    In your contempt. You' ll vanquish Pym? Old Vane
    Can vanquish you. And Vane you think to fly?
    Rush on the Scots! Do nobly! Vane's slight sneer
    Shall test success, adjust the praise, suggest
    The faint result: Vane's sneer shall reach you there.
    --You do not listen!

    _Straf._        Oh,--I give that up!
    There' s fate in it: I give all here quite up.
    Care not what old Vane does or Holland does
    Against me! 'T is so idle to withstand!
    In no case tell me what they do!

    _Lady Car._                 But, Strafford ...

    _Straf._ I want a little strife, beside; real strife;
    This petty palace-warfare does me harm:
    I shall feel better, fairly out of it.

    _Lady Car._ Why do you smile?

    _Straf._                   I got to fear them, child!
    I could have torn his throat at first, old Vane's,
    As he leered at me on his stealthy way
    To the Queen's closet. Lord, one loses heart!
    I often found it on my lips to say,
    "Do not traduce me to her!"

    _Lady Car._             But the King ...

    _Straf._ The King stood there, 't is not so long ago,
    --There; and the whisper, Lucy, "Be my friend
    Of friends!"--My King! I would have ...

    _Lady Car._                    ... Died for him?

    _Straf._ Sworn him true, Lucy: I can die for him.

    _Lady Car._ But go not, Strafford! But you must renounce
    This project on the Scots! Die, wherefore die?
    Charles never loved you.

    _Straf._            And he never will.
    He' s not of those who care the more for men
    That they 're unfortunate.

    _Lady Car._          Then wherefore die
    For such a master?

    _Straf._      You that told me first
    How good he was--when I must leave true friends
    To find a truer friend!--that drew me here
    From Ireland,--"I had but to show myself,
    And Charles would spurn Vane, Savile, and the rest"--
    You, child, to ask me this?

    _Lady Car._            (If he have set
    His heart abidingly on Charles!)
                                    Then, friend,
    I shall not see you any more.

    _Straf._                 Yes, Lucy.
    There 's one man here I have to meet.

    _Lady Car._                              (The King!
    What way to save him from the King?
                                        My soul--
    That lent from its own store the charmed disguise
    Which clothes the King--he shall behold my soul!)
    Strafford,--I shall speak best if you 'll not gaze
    Upon me: I had never thought, indeed,
    To speak, but you would perish too, so sure!
    Could you but know what 't is to bear, my friend,
    One image stamped within you, turning blank
    The else imperial brilliance of your mind,--
    A weakness, but most precious,--like a flaw
    I' the diamond, which should shape forth some sweet face
    Yet to create, and meanwhile treasured there
    Let nature lose her gracious thought forever!

    _Straf._ When could it be? no! Yet ... was it the day
    We waited in the anteroom, till Holland
    Should leave the presence-chamber?

    _Lady Car._                   What?

    _Straf._                           --That I
    Described to you my love for Charles?

    _Lady Car._                      (Ah, no--
    One must not lure him from a love like that!
    Oh, let him love the King and die! 'T is past.
    I shall not serve him worse for that one brief
    And passionate hope, silent forever now!)
    And you are really bound for Scotland then?
    I wish you well: you must be very sure
    Of the King's faith, for Pym and all his crew
    Will not be idle--setting Vane aside!

    _Straf._ If Pym is busy,--you may write of Pym.

    _Lady Car._ What need, since there 's your King to take your part?
    He may endure Vane's counsel; but for Pym--
    Think you he 'll suffer Pym to ...

    _Straf._                  Child, your hair
    Is glossier than the Queen's!

    _Lady Car._              Is that to ask
    A curl of me?

    _Straf._    Scotland--the weary way!

    _Lady Car._ Stay, let me fasten it.
                             --A rival's, Strafford?

    _Straf._ [_showing the George._] He hung it there: twine yours
       around it, child!

    _Lady Car._ No--no--another time--I trifle so!
    And there 's a masque on foot. Farewell. The Court
    Is dull; do something to enliven us
    In Scotland: we expect it at your hands.

    _Straf._ I shall not fail in Scotland.

    _Lady Car._                        Prosper--if
    You 'll think of me sometimes!

    _Straf._                 How think of him
    And not of you? of you, the lingering streak
    (A golden one) in my good fortune's eve.

    _Lady Car._ Strafford ... Well, when the eve has its last streak
    The night has its first star.             [_She goes out._

    _Straf._                 That voice of hers--
    You 'd think she had a heart sometimes! His voice
    Is soft too.
                 Only God can save him now.
    Be Thou about his bed, about his path!
    His path! Where 's England's path? Diverging wide,
    And not to join again the track my foot
    Must follow--whither? All that forlorn way
    Among the tombs! Far--far--till ... What, they do
    Then join again, these paths? For, huge in the dusk,
    There 's--Pym to face!
                          Why then, I have a foe
    To close with, and a fight to fight at last
    Worthy my soul! What, do they beard the King,
    And shall the King want Strafford at his need?
    Am I not here?
                   Not in the market-place,
    Pressed on by the rough artisans, so proud
    To catch a glance from Wentworth! They lie down
    Hungry yet smile, "Why, it must end some day:
    Is he not watching for our sake?" Not there!
    But in Whitehall, the whited sepulchre,
    The ...
          Curse nothing to-night! Only one name
    They 'll curse in all those streets to-night. Whose fault?
    Did I make kings? set up, the first, a man
    To represent the multitude, receive
    All love in right of them--supplant them so,
    Until you love the man and not the king--
    The man with the mild voice and mournful eyes
    Which send me forth.
                         --To breast the bloody sea
    That sweeps before me: with one star for guide.
    Night has its first, supreme, forsaken star.

       *       *       *       *       *


SCENE I. _Opposite Westminster Hall._

Sir HENRY VANE, LORD SAVILE, LORD HOLLAND _and others of the Court._

    _Sir H. Vane._ The Commons thrust you out?

    _Savile._                           And what kept you
    From sharing their civility?

    _Vane._                   Kept me?
    Fresh news from Scotland, sir! worse than the last,
    If that may be. All 's up with Strafford there:
    Nothing to bar the mad Scots marching hither
    Next Lord's-day morning. That detained me, sir!
    Well now, before they thrust you out,--go on,--
    Their Speaker--did the fellow Lenthal say
    All we set down for him?

    _Holland._          Not a word missed.
    Ere he began, we entered, Savile, I
    And Bristol and some more, with hope to breed
    A wholesome awe in the new Parliament.
    But such a gang of graceless ruffians, Vane,
    As glared at us!

    _Vane._     So many?

    _Sav._               Not a bench
    Without its complement of burly knaves;
    Your hopeful son among them: Hampden leant
    Upon his shoulder--think of that!

    _Vane._                      I 'd think
    On Lenthal's speech, if I could get at it.
    Urged he, I ask, how grateful they should prove
    For this unlooked-for summons from the King?

    _Holl._ Just as we drilled him.

    _Vane._              That the Scots will march
    On London?

    _Holl._   All, and made so much of it,
    A dozen subsidies at least seemed sure
    To follow, when ...

    _Vane._          Well?

    _Holl._            'T is a strange thing now!
    I 've a vague memory of a sort of sound,
    A voice, a kind of vast unnatural voice--
    Pym, sir, was speaking! Savile, help me out:
    What was it all?

    _Sav._      Something about "a matter"--
    No,--"work for England."

    _Holl._           "England's great revenge"
    He talked of.

    _Sav._   How should I get used to Pym
    More than yourselves?

    _Holl._          However that may be,
    'T was something with which we had naught to do,
    For we were "strangers," and 't was "England's work"--
    (All this while looking us straight in the face)
    In other words, our presence might be spared.
    So, in the twinkling of an eye, before
    I settled to my mind what ugly brute
    Was likest Pym just then, they yelled us out,
    Locked the doors after us, and here are we.

    _Vane._ Eliot's old method ...

    _Sav._                    Prithee, Vane, a truce
    To Eliot and his times, and the great Duke,
    And how to manage Parliaments! 'T was you
    Advised the Queen to summon this: why, Strafford
    (To do him justice) would not hear of it.

    _Vane._ Say rather, you have done the best of turns
    To Strafford: he 's at York, we all know why.
    I would you had not set the Scots on Strafford
    Till Strafford put down Pym for us, my lord!

    _Sav._ Was it I altered Stafford's plans? did I ...
                 (_A_ Messenger _enters._)

    _Mes._ The Queen, my lords--she sends me: follow me
    At once; 't is very urgent! she requires
    Your counsel: something perilous and strange
    Occasions her command.

    _Sav._            We follow, friend!
    Now, Vane;--your Parliament will plague us all!

    _Vane._ No Strafford here beside!

    _Sav._                   If you dare hint
    I had a hand in his betrayal, sir ...

    _Holl._ Nay, find a fitter time for quarrels--Pym
    Will overmatch the best of you; and, think,
    The Queen!

    _Vane._ Come on, then: understand, I loathe
    Strafford as much as any--but his use!
    To keep off Pym, to screen a friend or two,
    I would we had reserved him yet awhile.

SCENE II. _Whitehall._

_The_ QUEEN _and_ Lady CARLISLE.

    _Queen._ It cannot be.

    _Lady Car._           It is so.

    _Queen._                        Why, the House
    Have hardly met.

    _Lady Car._ They met for that.

    _Queen._                       No, no!
    Meet to impeach Lord Strafford? 'T is a jest.

    _Lady Car._ A bitter one.

    _Queen._           Consider! 'T is the House
    We summoned so reluctantly, which nothing
    But the disastrous issue of the war
    Persuaded us to summon. They 'll wreak all
    Their spite on us, no doubt; but the old way
    Is to begin by talk of grievances:
    They have their grievances to busy them.

    _Lady Car._ Pym has begun his speech.

    _Queen._               Where 's Vane?--That is,
    Pym will impeach Lord Strafford if he leaves
    His Presidency; he 's at York, we know,
    Since the Scots beat him: why should he leave York?

    _Lady Car._ Because the King sent for him.

    _Queen._                               Ah--but if
    The King did send for him, he let him know
    We had been forced to call a Parliament--
    A step which Strafford, now I come to think,
    Was vehement against.

    _Lady Car._     The policy
    Escaped him, of first striking Parliaments
    To earth, then setting them upon their feet
    And giving them a sword: but this is idle.
    Did the King send for Strafford? He will come.

    _Queen._ And what am I to do?

    _Lady Car._                What do? Fail, madam!
    Be ruined for his sake! what matters how,
    So it but stand on record that you made
    An effort, only one?

    _Queen._         The King away
    At Theobald's!

    _Lady Car._ Send for him at once: he must
    Dissolve the House.

    _Queen._     Wait till Vane finds the truth
    Of the report: then ...

    _Lady Car._       --It will matter little
    What the King does. Strafford that lends his arm
    And breaks his heart for you!
              (Sir H. VANE _enters._)

    _Vane._                 The Commons, madam,
    Are sitting with closed doors. A huge debate,
    No lack of noise; but nothing, I should guess,
    Concerning Strafford: Pym has certainly
    Not spoken yet.

    _Queen._ [_To_ Lady CARLISLE.] You hear?

    _Lady Car._                                I do not hear
    That the King 's sent for!

    _Vane._              Savile will be able
    To tell you more.
              (HOLLAND _enters._)

    _Queen._     The last news, Holland?

    _Holl._                             Pym
    Is raging like a fire. The whole House means
    To follow him together to Whitehall
    And force the King to give up Strafford.

    _Queen._                         Strafford?

    _Holl._ If they content themselves with Strafford! Laud
    Is talked of, Cottington and Windebank too.
    Pym has not left out one of them--I would
    You heard Pym raging!

    _Queen._        Vane, go find the King!
    Tell the King, Vane, the People follow Pym
    To brave us at Whitehall!

                  (SAVILE _enters._)

    _Sav._                Not to Whitehall--
    'T is to the Lords they go: they seek redress
    On Strafford from his peers--the legal way,
    They call it.

    _Queen._ (Wait, Vane!)

    _Sav._                 But the adage gives
    Long life to threatened men. Strafford can save
    Himself so readily: at York, remember,
    In his own county: what has he to fear?
    The Commons only mean to frighten him
    From leaving York. Surely, he will not come.

    _Queen._ Lucy, he will not come!

    _Lady Car._              Once more, the King
    Has sent for Strafford. He will come.

    _Vane._                        Oh doubtless!
    And bring destruction with him: that 's his way.
    What but his coming spoilt all Conway's plan?
    The King must take his counsel, choose his friends,
    Be wholly ruled by him! What 's the result?
    The North that was to rise, Ireland to help,--
    What came of it? In my poor mind, a fright
    Is no prodigious punishment.

    _Lady Car._             A fright?
    Pym will fail worse than Strafford if he thinks
    To frighten him. [_To the_ QUEEN.] You will not save him then?

    _Sav._ When something like a charge is made, the King
    Will best know how to save him: and 't is clear,
    While Strafford suffers nothing by the matter,
    The King may reap advantage: this in question,
    No dinning you with ship-money complaints!

    _Queen._ [_To_ Lady CARLISLE.] If we dissolve them, who will pay
       the army?
    Protect us from the insolent Scots?

    _Lady Car._                    In truth,
    I know not, madam. Strafford's fate concerns
    Me little: you desired to learn what course
    Would save him: I obey you.

    _Vane._                Notice, too,
    There can't be fairer ground for taking full
    Revenge--(Strafford 's revengeful)--than he 'll have
    Against his old friend Pym.

    _Queen._               Why, he shall claim
    Vengeance on Pym!

    _Vane._      And Strafford, who is he
    To 'scape unscathed amid the accidents
    That harass all beside? I, for my part,
    Should look for something of discomfiture
    Had the King trusted me so thoroughly
    And been so paid for it.

    _Holl._             He 'll keep at York:
    All will blow over: he 'll return no worse,
    Humbled a little, thankful for a place
    Under as good a man. Oh, we 'll dispense
    With seeing Strafford for a month or two!
              (STRAFFORD _enters._)

    _Queen._ You here!

    _Straf._       The King sends for me, madam.

    _Queen._                                  Sir,
    The King ...

    _Straf._ An urgent matter that imports the King!
    [_To_ Lady CARLISLE.] Why, Lucy, what 's in agitation now,
    That all this muttering and shrugging, see,
    Begins at me? They do not speak!

    _Lady Car._               'Tis welcome!
    For we are proud of you--happy and proud
    To have you with us, Strafford! You were stanch
    At Durham: you did well there! Had you not
    Been stayed, you might have ... we said, even now,
    Our hope 's in you!

    _Vane._ [_To_ Lady CARLISLE.] The Queen would speak with you.

    _Straf._ Will one of you, his servants here, vouchsafe
    To signify my presence to the King?

    _Sav._ An urgent matter?

    _Straf._                 None that touches you,
    Lord Savile! Say, it were some treacherous
    Sly pitiful intriguing with the Scots--
    You would go free, at least! (They half divine
    My purpose!) Madam, shall I see the King?
    The service I would render, much concerns
    His welfare.

    _Queen._ But his Majesty, my lord,
    May not be here, may ...

    _Straf._           Its importance, then,
    Must plead excuse for this withdrawal, madam,
    And for the grief it gives Lord Savile here.

    _Queen._ [_Who has been conversing with_ VANE _and_ HOLLAND.]
       The King will see you, sir!
    [_To_ Lady CARLISLE.] Mark me: Pym's worst
    Is done by now: he has impeached the Earl,
    Or found the Earl too strong for him, by now.
    Let us not seem instructed! We should work
    No good to Strafford, but deform ourselves
    With shame in the world's eye. [_To_ STRAFFORD.] His Majesty
    Has much to say with you.

    _Straf._            Time fleeting, too!
    [_To_ Lady CARLISLE.] No means of getting them away? And She--
    What does she whisper? Does she know my purpose?
    What does she think of it? Get them away!

    _Queen._ [_To_ Lady CARLISLE.] He comes to baffle Pym--he thinks
       the danger
    Far off: tell him no word of it! a time
    For help will come: we 'll not be wanting then.
    Keep him in play, Lucy--you, self-possessed
    And calm! [_To_ STRAFFORD.] To spare your lordship some delay
    I will myself acquaint the King. [_To_ LADY CARLISLE.] Beware!

    [_The_ QUEEN, VANE, HOLLAND, _and_ SAVILE _go out._

    _Straf._ She knows it?

    _Lady Car._            Tell me, Strafford!

    _Straf._                                   Afterward!
    This moment 's the great moment of all time.
    She knows my purpose?

    _Lady Car._     Thoroughly: just now
    She bade me hide it from you.

    _Straf._                Quick, dear child,
    The whole o' the scheme?

    _Lady Car._        (Ah, he would learn if they
    Connive at Pym's procedure! Could they but
    Have once apprised the King! But there 's no time
    For falsehood, now.) Strafford, the whole is known.

    _Straf._ Known and approved?

    _Lady Car._               Hardly discountenanced.

    _Straf._ And the King--say, the King consents as well?

    _Lady Car._ The King 's not yet informed, but will not dare
    To interpose.

    _Straf._ What need to wait him, then?
    He 'll sanction it! I stayed, child, tell him, long!
    It vexed me to the soul--this waiting here.
    You know him, there 's no counting on the King.
    Tell him I waited long!

    _Lady Car._        (What can he mean?
    Rejoice at the King's hollowness?)

    _Straf._                     I knew
    They would be glad of it,--all over once,
    I knew they would be glad: but he 'd contrive,
    The Queen and he, to mar, by helping it,
    An angel's making.

    _Lady Car._   (Is he mad?) Dear Strafford,
    You were not wont to look so happy.

    _Straf._                        Sweet,
    I tried obedience thoroughly. I took
    The King's wild plan: of course, ere I could reach
    My army, Conway ruined it. I drew
    The wrecks together, raised all heaven and earth,
    And would have fought the Scots: the King at once
    Made truce with them. Then, Lucy, then, dear child,
    God put it in my mind to love, serve, die
    For Charles, but never to obey him more!
    While he endured their insolence at Ripon
    I fell on them at Durham. But you 'll tell
    The King I waited? All the anteroom
    Is filled with my adherents.

    _Lady Car._             Strafford--Strafford,
    What daring act is this you hint?

    _Straf._                      No, no!
    'T is here, not daring if you knew? all here!
                            [_Drawing papers from his breast._
    Full proof; see, ample proof--does the Queen know
    I have such damning proof? Bedford and Essex,
    Brooke, Warwick, Savile (did you notice Savile?
    The simper that I spoilt?), Saye, Mandeville--
    Sold to the Scots, body and soul, by Pym!

    _Lady Car._ Great heaven!

    _Straf._           From Savile and his lords, to Pym
    And his losels, crushed!--Pym shall not ward the blow
    Nor Savile creep aside from it! The Crew
    And the Cabal--I crush them!

    _Lady Car._              And you go--
    Strafford,--and now you go?

    _Straf._              --About no work
    In the background, I promise you! I go
    Straight to the House of Lords to claim these knaves.

    _Lady Car._ Stay--stay, Strafford!

    _Straf._                         She 'll return,
    The Queen--some little project of her own!
    No time to lose: the King takes fright perhaps.

    _Lady Car._ Pym 's strong, remember!

    _Straf._                      Very strong, as fits
    The Faction's head--with no offence to Hampden,
    Vane, Rudyard, and my loving Hollis: one
    And all they lodge within the Tower to-night
    In just equality. Bryan! Mainwaring!
                               [_Many of his Adherents enter._
    The Peers debate just now (a lucky chance)
    On the Scots' war: my visit 's opportune.
    When all is over, Bryan, you proceed
    To Ireland: these dispatches, mark me, Bryan,
    Are for the Deputy, and these for Ormond:
    We want the army here--my army, raised
    At such a cost, that should have done such good,
    And was inactive all the time! no matter,
    We 'll find a use for it. Willis ... or, no--you!
    You, friend, make haste to York: bear this, at once ...
    Or,--better stay for form's sake, see yourself
    The news you carry. You remain with me
    To execute the Parliament's command,
    Mainwaring! Help to seize these lesser knaves,
    Take care there 's no escaping at backdoors:
    I 'll not have one escape, mind me--not one!
    I seem revengeful, Lucy? Did you know
    What these men dare!

    _Lady Car._    It is so much they dare!

    _Straf._ I proved that long ago; my turn is now.
    Keep sharp watch, Goring, on the citizens!
    Observe who harbors any of the brood
    That scramble off: be sure they smart for it!
    Our coffers are but lean.
                              And you, child, too,
    Shall have your task; deliver this to Laud.
    Laud will not be the slowest in my praise:
    "Thorough," he 'll cry!--Foolish, to be so glad!
    This life is gay and glowing, after all:
    'T is worth while, Lucy, having foes like mine
    Just for the bliss of crushing them. To-day
    Is worth the living for.

    _Lady Car._        That reddening brow!
    You seem ...

    _Straf._   Well--do I not? I would be well--
    I could not but be well on such a day!
    And, this day ended, 't is of slight import
    How long the ravaged frame subjects the soul
    In Strafford.

    _Lady Car._   Noble Strafford!

    _Straf._                     No farewell!
    I 'll see you anon, to-morrow--the first thing.
    --If She should come to stay me!

    _Lady Car._               Go--'t is nothing--
    Only my heart that swells: it has been thus
    Ere now: go, Strafford!

    _Straf._         To-night, then, let it be.
    I must see Him: you, the next after Him.
    I 'll tell you how Pym looked. Follow me, friends!
    You, gentlemen, shall see a sight this hour
    To talk of all your lives. Close after me!
    "My friend of friends!"
                             [STRAFFORD _and the rest go out._

    _Lady Car._ The King--ever the King!
    No thought of one beside, whose little word
    Unveils the King to him--one word from me,
    Which yet I do not breathe!
                                Ah, have I spared
    Strafford a pang, and shall I seek reward
    Beyond that memory? Surely too, some way
    He is the better for my love. No, no--
    He would not look so joyous--I 'll believe
    His very eye would never sparkle thus,
    Had I not prayed for him this long, long while.

SCENE III. _The Antechamber of the House of Lords._

_Many of the Presbyterian Party. The Adherents of_ STRAFFORD, _etc._

    _A Group of Presbyterians._--1. I tell you he struck MAXWELL:
       Maxwell sought
    To stay the Earl: he struck him and passed on.

    2. Fear as you may, keep a good countenance
    Before these rufflers.

    3.                      Strafford here the first,
    With the great army at his back!

    4.                               No doubt.
    I would Pym had made haste: that 's Bryan, hush--
    The gallant pointing.

    _Strafford's Followers._--1. Mark these worthies, now!

    2. A goodly gathering! "Where the carcass is
    There shall the eagles"--What 's the rest?

    3.                                   For eagles
    Say crows.

    _A Presbyterian._   Stand back, sirs!

    _One of Strafford's Followers._    Are we in Geneva?

    _A Presbyterian._ No, nor in Ireland; we have leave to breathe.

    _One of Strafford's Followers._ Truly? Behold how privileged we be
    That serve "King Pym"! There 's Some-one at Whitehall
    Who skulks obscure; but Pym struts ...

    _The Presbyterian._               Nearer.

    _A Follower of Strafford._               Higher,
    We look to see him. [_To his_ Companions.] I 'm to have St. John
    In charge; was he among the knaves just now
    That followed Pym within there?

    _Another._                 The gaunt man
    Talking with Rudyard. Did the Earl expect
    Pym at his heels so fast? I like it not.
            (MAXWELL _enters._)

    _Another._ Why, man, they rush into the net! Here 's Maxwell--
    Ha, Maxwell? How the brethren flock around
    The fellow! Do you feel the Earl's hand yet
    Upon your shoulder, Maxwell?

    _Maxwell._               Gentlemen,
    Stand back! a great thing passes here.

    _A Follower of Strafford._ [_To another._] The Earl
    Is at his work! [_To_ M.] Say, Maxwell, what great thing!
    Speak out! [_To a_ Presbyterian.] Friend, I 've a kindness for you!
    I 've seen you with St. John: O stockishness!
    Wear such a ruff, and never call to mind
    St. John's head in a charger? How, the plague,
    Not laugh?

    _Another._   Say, Maxwell, what great thing!

    _Another._                                 Nay, wait:
    The jest will be to wait.

    _First._             And who 's to bear
    These demure hypocrites? You 'd swear they came ...
    Came ... just as we come!
      [_A Puritan enters hastily and without observing_ STRAFFORD'S

    _The Puritan._       How goes on the work?
    Has Pym ...

    _A Follower of Strafford._ The secret 's out at last. Aha,
    The carrion 's scented! Welcome, crow the first!
    Gorge merrily, you with the blinking eye!
    "King Pym has fallen!"

    _The Puritan._    Pym?

    _A Strafford._         Pym!

    _A Presbyterian._           Only Pym?

    _Many of Strafford's Followers._ No, brother, not Pym only; Vane as
    Rudyard as well, Hampden, St. John as well!

    _A Presbyterian._ My mind misgives: can it be true?

    _Another._                         Lost! Lost!

    _A Strafford._ Say we true, Maxwell?

    _The Puritan._             Pride before destruction,
    A haughty spirit goeth before a fall.

    _Many of Strafford's Followers._ Ah now! The very thing! A word in
    A golden apple in a silver picture
    To greet Pym as he passes!
      [_The doors at the back begin to open, noise and light issuing._

    _Max._                 Stand back, all!

    _Many of the Presbyterians._ I hold with Pym! And I!

    _Strafford's Followers._               Now for the text!
    He comes! Quick!

    _The Puritan._ How hath the oppressor ceased!
    The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked!
    The sceptre of the rulers, he who smote
    The people in wrath with a continual stroke,
    That ruled the nations in his anger--he
    Is persecuted and none hindereth!

    [_The doors open, and_ STRAFFORD _issues in the greatest disorder,
      and amid cries from within of_ "Void the House!"

    _Straf._ Impeach me! Pym! I never struck, I think,
    The felon on that calm insulting mouth
    When it proclaimed--Pym's mouth proclaimed me ... God!
    Was it a word, only a word that held
    The outrageous blood back on my heart--which beats!
    Which beats! Some one word--"Traitor," did he say,
    Bending that eye, brimful of bitter fire,
    Upon me?

    _Max._ In the Commons' name, their servant
    Demands Lord Strafford's sword.

    _Straf._                   What did you say?

    _Max._ The Commons bid me ask your lordship's sword.

    _Straf._ Let us go forth: follow me, gentlemen!
    Draw your swords too: cut any down that bar us.
    On the King's service! Maxwell, clear the way!

    [The Presbyterians _prepare to dispute his passage._

    _Straf._ I stay: the King himself shall see me here.
    Your tablets, fellow!
    [_To_ MAINWARING.] Give that to the King!
    Yes, Maxwell, for the next half-hour, let be!
    Nay, you shall take my sword!
                               [MAXWELL _advances to take it._
                                   Or, no--not that!
    Their blood, perhaps, may wipe out all thus far
    All up to that--not that! Why, friend, you see
    When the King lays your head beneath my foot
    It will not pay for that. Go, all of you!

    _Max._ I dare, my lord, to disobey: none stir!

    _Straf._ This gentle Maxwell!--Do not touch him, Bryan!
    [_To the_ Presbyterians.] Whichever cur of you will carry this
    Escapes his fellow's fate. None saves his life?
    None?                 [_Cries from within of_ "STRAFFORD!"
    Slingsby, I 've loved you at least: make haste!
    Stab me! I have not time to tell you why.
    You then, my Bryan! Mainwaring, you then!
    Is it because I spoke so hastily
    At Allerton? The King had vexed me.
    [_To the_ Presbyterians.]       You!
    --Not even you? If I live over this,
    The King is sure to have your heads, you know!
    But what if I can't live this minute through?
    Pym, who is there with his pursuing smile!
                               [_Louder cries of_ "STRAFFORD!"
    The King! I troubled him, stood in the way
    Of his negotiations, was the one
    Great obstacle to peace, the Enemy
    Of Scotland: and he sent for me, from York,
    My safety guaranteed--having prepared
    A Parliament--I see! And at Whitehall
    The Queen was whispering with Vane--I see
    The trap!                       [_Tearing off the George._
              I tread a gewgaw underfoot,
    And cast a memory from me. One stroke, now!

    [_His own_ Adherents _disarm him. Renewed cries of_ "STRAFFORD!"

    England! I see thy arm in this and yield.
    Pray you now--Pym awaits me--pray you now!

    [STRAFFORD _reaches the doors: they open wide._ HAMPDEN _and a
    crowd discovered, and, at the bar,_ PYM _standing apart. As_
    STRAFFORD _kneels, the scene shuts._

       *       *       *       *       *


SCENE I. _Whitehall._

_in the background._)

    _Lady Car._ Answer them, Hollis, for his sake! One word!

    _Cha._ [_To_ HOLLIS.] You stand, silent and cold, as though I were
    Deceiving you--my friend, my playfellow
    Of other times. What wonder after all?
    Just so, I dreamed my People loved me.

    _Hol._                            Sir,
    It is yourself that you deceive, not me.
    You 'll quit me comforted, your mind made up
    That, since you 've talked thus much and grieved thus much,
    All you can do for Strafford has been done.

    _Queen._ If you kill Strafford--(come, we grant you leave.

    _Hol._   I may withdraw, sir?

    _Lady Car._                 Hear them out!
    'T is the last chance for Strafford! Hear them out!

    _Hol._ "If we kill Strafford"--on the eighteenth day
    Of Strafford's trial--"We!"

    _Cha._             Pym, my good Hollis--
    Pym, I should say!

    _Hol._         Ah, true--sir, pardon me!
    You witness our proceedings every day;
    But the screened gallery, I might have guessed,
    Admits of such a partial glimpse at us,
    Pym takes up all the room, shuts out the view.
    Still, on my honor, sir, the rest of the place
    Is not unoccupied. The Commons sit
    --That 's England; Ireland sends, and Scotland too,
    Their representatives; the Peers that judge
    Are easily distinguished; one remarks
    The People here and there: but the close curtain
    Must hide so much!

    _Queen._      Acquaint your insolent crew.
    This day the curtain shall be dashed aside!
    It served a purpose.

    _Hol._          Think! This very day?
    Ere Strafford rises to defend himself?

    _Cha._ I will defend him, sir!--sanction the past
    This day: it ever was my purpose. Rage
    At me, not Strafford!

    _Lady Car._     Nobly!--will he not
    Do nobly?

    _Hol._    Sir, you will do honestly;
    And, for that deed, I too would be a king.

    _Cha._ Only, to do this now!--"deaf" (in your style)
    "To subjects' prayers,"--I must oppose them now!
    It seems their will the trial should proceed,--
    So palpably their will!

    _Hol._              You peril much,
    But it were no bright moment save for that.
    Strafford, your prime support, the sole roof-tree
    Which props this quaking House of Privilege.
    (Flood comes, winds beat, and see--the treacherous sand!)
    Doubtless, if the mere putting forth an arm
    Could save him, you 'd save Strafford.

    _Cha._                           And they dare
    Consummate calmly this great wrong! No hope?
    This ineffaceable wrong! No pity then?

    _Hol._ No plague in store for perfidy?--Farewell!
    You call me, sir-- [_To_ Lady CARLISLE.] You, lady, bade me come
    To save the Earl: I came, thank God for it,
    To learn how far such perfidy can go!
    You, sir, concert with me on saving him
    Who have just ruined Strafford!

    _Cha._                     I?--and how?

    _Hol._ Eighteen days long he throws, one after one,
    Pym's charges back: a blind moth-eaten law!
    --He 'll break from it at last: and whom to thank?
    The mouse that gnawed the lion's net for him
    Got a good friend,--but he, the other mouse,
    That looked on while the lion freed himself--
    Fared he so well, does any fable say?

    _Cha._ What can you mean?

    _Hol._                 Pym never could have proved
    Strafford's design of bringing up the troops
    To force this kingdom to obedience: Vane--
    Your servant, not our friend, has proved it.

    _Cha._                                  Vane?

    _Hol._ This day. Did Vane deliver up or no
    Those notes which, furnished by his son to Pym,
    Seal Strafford's fate?

    _Cha._           Sir, as I live, I know
    Nothing that Vane has done! What treason next?
    I wash my hands of it. Vane, speak the truth!
    Ask Vane himself!

    _Hol._       I will not speak to Vane,
    Who speak to Pym and Hampden every day.

    _Queen._ Speak to Vane's master then! What gain to him
    Were Strafford's death?

    _Hol._             Ha? Strafford cannot turn
    As you, sir, sit there--bid you forth, demand
    If every hateful act were not set down
    In his commission?--whether you contrived
    Or no, that all the violence should seem
    His work, the gentle ways--your own,--his part,
    To counteract the King's kind impulses--
    While ... but you know what he could say! And then
    He might produce--mark, sir!--a certain charge
    To set the King's express command aside,
    If need were, and be blameless. He might add ...

    _Cha._ Enough!

    _Hol._        --Who bade him break the Parliament,
    Find some pretence for setting up sword-law!

    _Queen._ Retire!

    _Cha._        Once more, whatever Vane dared do,
    I know not: he is rash, a fool--I know
    Nothing of Vane!

    _Hol._       Well--I believe you. Sir,
    Believe me, in return, that ...
    [_Turning to_ Lady CARLISLE.] Gentle lady,
    The few words I would say, the stones might hear
    Sooner than these,--I rather speak to you,
    You, with the heart! The question, trust me, takes
    Another shape, to-day: not, if the King
    Or England shall succumb,--but, who shall pay
    The forfeit, Strafford or his master. Sir,
    You loved me once: think on my warning now!
                                                  [_Goes out._

    _Cha._ On you and on your warning both!--Carlisle!
    That paper!

    _Queen._ But consider!

    _Cha._                 Give it me!
    There, signed--will that content you? Do not speak!
    You have betrayed me, Vane! See! any day,
    According to the tenor of that paper,
    He bids your brother bring the army up,
    Strafford shall head it and take full revenge.
    Seek Strafford! Let him have the same, before
    He rises to defend himself!

    _Queen._               In truth?
    That your shrewd Hollis should have worked a change
    Like this! You, late reluctant ...

    _Cha._                        Say, Carlisle,
    Your brother Percy brings the army up,
    Falls on the Parliament--(I 'll think of you,
    My Hollis!) say, we plotted long-- 't is mine,
    The scheme is mine, remember! Say, I cursed
    Vane's folly in your hearing! If the Earl
    Does rise to do us shame, the fault shall lie
    With you, Carlisle!

    _Lady Car._    Nay, fear not me! but still
    That 's a bright moment, sir, you throw away.
    Tear down the veil and save him!

    _Queen._                   Go, Carlisle!

    _Lady Car._ (I shall see Strafford--speak to him: my heart
    Must never beat so, then! And if I tell
    The truth? What 's gained by falsehood? There they stand
    Whose trade it is, whose life it is! How vain
    To gild such rottenness! Strafford shall know,
    Thoroughly know them!)

    _Queen._   Trust to me! [_To_ CARLISLE.] Carlisle,
    You seem inclined, alone of all the Court,
    To serve poor Strafford: this bold plan of yours
    Merits much praise, and yet ...

    _Lady Car._              Time presses, madam.

    _Queen._ Yet--may it not be something premature?
    Strafford defends himself to-day--reserves
    Some wondrous effort, one may well suppose!

    _Lady Car._ Ay, Hollis hints as much.

    _Cha._.                             Why linger then?
    Haste with the scheme--my scheme: I shall be there
    To watch his look. Tell him I watch his look!

    _Queen._ Stay, we 'll precede you!

    _Lady Car._                      At your pleasure.

    _Cha._                                           Say--
    Say, Vane is hardly ever at Whitehall!
    I shall be there, remember!

    _Lady Car._             Doubt me not.

    _Cha._ On our return, Carlisle, we wait you here!

    _Lady Car._ I 'll bring his answer. Sir, I follow you.
    (Prove the King faithless, and I take away
    All Strafford cares to live for: let it be--
    'T is the King's scheme!
                             My Strafford, I can save,
    Nay, I have saved you, yet am scarce content,
    Because my poor name will not cross your mind.
    Strafford, how much I am unworthy you!)

SCENE II. _A passage adjoining Westminster Hall._

_Many groups of_ Spectators _of the Trial._ Officers _of the Court,

    _1st Spec._ More crowd than ever! Not know Hampden, man?
    That 's he, by Pym, Pym that is speaking now.
    No, truly, if you look so high you 'll see
    Little enough of either!

    _2d Spec._          Stay: Pym's arm
    Points like a prophet's rod.

    _3d Spec._              Ay, ay, we 've heard
    Some pretty speaking: yet the Earl escapes.

    _4th Spec._ I fear it: just a foolish word or two
    About his children--and we see, forsooth,
    Not England's foe in Strafford, but the man
    Who, sick, half-blind ...

    _2d Spec._        What 's that Pym's saying now
    Which makes the curtains flutter? look! A hand
    Clutches them. Ah! The King's hand!

    _5th Spec._                   I had thought
    Pym was not near so tall. What said he, friend?

    _2d Spec._ "Nor is this way a novel way of blood,"
    And the Earl turns as if to ... Look! look!

    _Many Spectators._                  There!
    What ails him? No--he rallies, see--goes on,
    And Strafford smiles. Strange!

    _An Officer._             Haselrig!

    _Many Spectators._             Friend? Friend?

    _The Officer._ Lost, utterly lost: just when we looked for Pym
    To make a stand against the ill effects
    Of the Earl's speech! Is Haselrig without?
    Pym's message is to him.

    _3d Spec._          Now, said I true?
    Will the Earl leave them yet at fault or no?

    _1st Spec._ Never believe it, man! These notes of Vane's
    Ruin the Earl.

    _5th Spec._ A brave end: not a whit
    Less firm, less Pym all over. Then, the trial
    Is closed. No--Strafford means to speak again?

    _An Officer._ Stand back, there!

    _5th Spec._            Why, the Earl is coming hither!
    Before the court breaks up! His brother, look,--
    You 'd say he 'd deprecated some fierce act
    In Strafford's mind just now.

    _An Officer._          Stand back, I say!

    _2d Spec._ Who 's the veiled woman that he talks with?

    _Many Spectators._ Hush--
    The Earl! the Earl!

    [_Enter_ STRAFFORD, SLINGSBY, _and other_ Secretaries, HOLLIS, Lady
    CARLISLE, MAXWELL, BALFOUR, _etc._ STRAFFORD _converses with_ Lady

    _Hol._         So near the end! Be patient--

    _Straf._ [_To his_ Secretaries.] Here--anywhere--or, 't is freshest
    To spend one's April here, the blossom-month:
    Set it down here!
                        [_They arrange a table, papers, etc._
                      So, Pym can quail, can cower
    Because I glance at him, yet more 's to do.
    What 's to be answered, Slingsby? Let us end!
    [_To_ Lady CARLISLE.] Child, I refuse his offer; whatsoe'er
    It be! Too late! Tell me no word of him!
    'T is something, Hollis, I assure you that--
    To stand, sick as you are, some eighteen days
    Fighting for life and fame against a pack
    Of very curs, that lie through thick and thin,
    Eat flesh and bread by wholesale, and can't say
    "Strafford" if it would take my life!

    _Lady Car._                      Be moved!
    Glance at the paper!

    _Straf._         Already at my heels!
    Pym's faulting bloodhounds scent the track again.
    Peace, child! Now, Slingsby!

    [Messengers _from_ LANE _and other of_ STRAFFORD'S Counsel _within
    the Hall are coming and going during the Scene._

    _Straf._ [setting himself to write and dictate.] I shall beat you,
    Do you know that? In spite of St. John's tricks,
    In spite of Pym--your Pym who shrank from me!
    Eliot would have contrived it otherwise.
    [_To a_ Messenger.] In truth? This slip, tell Lane, contains as much
    As I can call to mind about the matter.
    Eliot would have disdained ...
    [_Calling after the_ Messenger.] And Radcliffe, say,
    The only person who could answer Pym,
    Is safe in prison, just for that.
                                      Well, well!
    It had not been recorded in that case,
    I baffled you.
    [_To_ Lady CARLISLE.] Nay, child, why look so grieved?
    All 's gained without the King! You saw Pym quail?
    What shall I do when they acquit me, think you,
    But tranquilly resume my task as though
    Nothing had intervened since I proposed
    To call that traitor to account! Such tricks,
    Trust me, shall not be played a second time,
    Not even against Laud, with his gray hair--
    Your good work, Hollis! Peace! To make amends,
    You, Lucy, shall be here when I impeach
    Pym and his fellows.

    _Hol._          Wherefore not protest
    Against our whole proceeding, long ago?
    Why feel indignant now? Why stand this while
    Enduring patiently?

    _Straf._       Child, I 'll tell you--
    You, and not Pym--you, the slight graceful girl
    Tall for a flowering lily, and not Hollis--
    Why I stood patient! I was fool enough
    To see the will of England in Pym's will;
    To fear, myself had wronged her, and to wait
    Her judgment: when, behold, in place of it ...
    [_To a_ Messenger _who whispers._] Tell Lane to answer no such
       question! Law,--
    I grapple with their law! I 'm here to try
    My actions by their standard, not my own!
    Their law allowed that levy: what 's the rest
    To Pym, or Lane, any but God and me?

    _Lady Car._ The King 's so weak! Secure this chance! 'T was Vane,
    Never forget, who furnished Pym the notes ...

    _Straf._ Fit,--very fit, those precious notes of Vane,
    To close the Trial worthily! I feared
    Some spice of nobleness might linger yet
    And spoil the character of all the past.
    Vane eased me ... and I will go back and say
    As much--to Pym, to England! Follow me,
    I have a word to say! There, my defence
    Is done!
             Stay! why be proud? Why care to own
    My gladness, my surprise?--Nay, not surprise!
    Wherefore insist upon the little pride
    Of doing all myself, and sparing him
    The pain? Child, say the triumph is my King's!
    When Pym grew pale, and trembled, and sank down,
    One image was before me: could I fail?
    Child, care not for the past, so indistinct,
    Obscure--there 's nothing to forgive in it,
    'T is so forgotten! From this day begins
    A new life, founded on a new belief
    In Charles.

    _Hol._    In Charles? Rather believe in Pym!
    And here he comes in proof! Appeal to Pym!
    Say how unfair ...

    _Straf._    To Pym? I would say nothing!
    I would not look upon Pym's face again.

    _Lady Car._ Stay, let me have to think I pressed your hand!
                        [STRAFFORD _and his_ Friends _go out._

    (_Enter_ HAMPDEN _and_ VANE.)

    _Vane._ O Hampden, save the great misguided man!
    Plead Strafford's cause with Pym! I have remarked
    He moved no muscle when we all declaimed
    Against him: you had but to breathe--he turned
    Those kind calm eyes upon you.

    [_Enter_ PYM, _the_ Solicitor-General ST. JOHN, _the_ Managers _of
      the Trial,_ FIENNES, RUDYARD, _etc._

    _Rud._                     Horrible!
    Till now all hearts were with you: I withdraw
    For one. Too horrible! But we mistake
    Your purpose, Pym: you cannot snatch away
    The last spar from the drowning man.

    _Fien._                        He talks
    With St. John of it--see, how quietly!
    [_To other_ Presbyterians.]   You 'll join us? Strafford may deserve
       the worst:
    But this new course is monstrous. Vane, take heart!
    This Bill of his Attainder shall not have
    One true man's hand to it.

    _Vane._              Consider, Pym!
    Confront your Bill, your own Bill: what is it?
    You cannot catch the Earl on any charge,--
    No man will say the law has hold of him
    On any charge; and therefore you resolve
    To take the general sense on his desert,
    As though no law existed, and we met
    To found one. You refer to Parliament
    To speak its thought upon the abortive mass
    Of half-borne-out assertions, dubious hints
    Hereafter to be cleared, distortions--ay,
    And wild inventions. Every man is saved
    The task of fixing any single charge
    On Strafford: he has but to see in him
    The enemy of England.

    _Pym._            A right scruple!
    I have heard some called England's enemy
    With less consideration.

    _Vane._             Pity me!
    Indeed you make me think I was your friend!
    I who have murdered Strafford, how remove
    That memory from me?

    _Pym._           I absolve you, Vane.
    Take you no care for aught that you have done!

    _Vane._ John Hampden, not this Bill! Reject this Bill!
    He staggers through the ordeal: let him go,
    Strew no fresh fire before him! Plead for us!
    When Strafford spoke, your eyes were thick with tears!

    _Hamp._ England speaks louder: who are we, to play
    The generous pardoner at her expense,
    Magnanimously waive advantages,
    And, if he conquer us, applaud his skill?

    _Vane._ He was your friend.

    _Pym._                 I have heard that before.

    _Fien._ And England trusts you.

    _Hamp._                 Shame be his, who turns
    The opportunity of serving her
    She trusts him with, to his own mean account--
    Who would look nobly frank at her expense!

    _Fien._ I never thought it could have come to this.

    _Pym._ But I have made myself familiar, Fiennes,
    With this one thought--have walked, and sat, and slept,
    This thought before me. I have done such things,
    Being the chosen man that should destroy
    The traitor. You have taken up this thought
    To play with, for a gentle stimulant,
    To give a dignity to idler life
    By the dim prospect of emprise to come,
    But ever with the softening, sure belief,
    That all would end some strange way right at last.

    _Fien._ Had we made out some weightier charge!

    _Pym._                                   You say
    That these are petty charges: can we come
    To the real charge at all? There he is safe
    In tyranny's stronghold. Apostasy
    Is not a crime, treachery not a crime:
    The cheek burns, the blood tingles, when you speak
    The words, but where 's the power to take revenge
    Upon them? We must make occasion serve,--
    The oversight shall pay for the main sin
    That mocks us.

    _Rud._    But this unexampled course,
    This Bill!

    _Pym._ By this, we roll the clouds away
    Of precedent and custom, and at once
    Bid the great beacon-light God sets in all,
    The conscience of each bosom, shine upon
    The guilt of Strafford: each man lay his hand
    Upon his breast, and judge!

    _Vane._             I only see
    Strafford, nor pass his corpse for all beyond!

    _Rud. and others._ Forgive him! He would join us, now he finds
    What the King counts reward! The pardon, too,
    Should be your own. Yourself should bear to Strafford
    The pardon of the Commons.

    _Pym._             Meet him? Strafford?
    Have we to meet once more, then? Be it so!
    And yet--the prophecy seemed half fulfilled
    When, at the Trial, as he gazed, my youth,
    Our friendship, divers thoughts came back at once
    And left me, for a time ... 'Tis very sad!
    To-morrow we discuss the points of law
    With Lane--to-morrow?

    _Vane._        Not before to-morrow--
    So, time enough! I knew you would relent!

    _Pym._ The next day, Haselrig, you introduce
    The Bill of his Attainder. Pray for me!

SCENE III. _Whitehall._

_The_ KING.

    _Cha._ My loyal servant! To defend himself
    Thus irresistibly,--withholding aught
    That seemed to implicate us!

                                 We have done
    Less gallantly by Strafford. Well, the future
    Must recompense the past.

                              She tarries long.
    I understand you, Strafford, now!

                                     The scheme--
    Carlisle 's mad scheme--he 'll sanction it, I fear,
    For love of me. 'T was too precipitate:
    Before the army 's fairly on its march,
    He 'll be at large: no matter.

                                  Well, Carlisle?

                (_Enter_ PYM.)

    _Pym._ Fear me not, sir:--my mission is to save,
    This time.

    _Cha._   To break thus on me! unannounced!

    _Pym._ It is of Strafford I would speak.

    _Cha._                                No more
    Of Strafford! I have heard too much from you.

    _Pym._ I spoke, sir, for the People; will you hear
    A word upon my own account?

    _Cha._               Of Strafford?
    (So turns the tide already? Have we tamed
    The insolent brawler?--Strafford's eloquence
    Is swift in its effect.) Lord Strafford, sir,
    Has spoken for himself.

    _Pym._            Sufficiently.
    I would apprise you of the novel course
    The People take: the Trial fails.

    _Cha._                     Yes, yes:
    We are aware, sir: for your part in it
    Means shall be found to thank you.

    _Pym._                      Pray you, read
    This schedule! I would learn from your own mouth
    --(It is a matter much concerning me)--
    Whether, if two Estates of us concede
    The death of Strafford, on the grounds set forth
    Within that parchment, you, sir, can resolve
    To grant your own consent to it. This Bill
    Is framed by me. If you determine, sir,
    That England 's manifested will should guide
    Your judgment, ere another week such will
    Shall manifest itself. If not,--I cast
    Aside the measure.

    _Cha._      You can hinder, then,
    The introduction of this Bill?

    _Pym._                  I can.

    _Cha._ He is my friend, sir: I have wronged him: mark you,
    Had I not wronged him, this might be. You think
    Because you hate the Earl ... (turn not away,
    We know you hate him)--no one else could love
    Strafford: but he has saved me, some affirm.
    Think of his pride! And do you know one strange,
    One frightful thing? We all have used the man
    As though a drudge of ours, with not a source
    Of happy thoughts except in us; and yet
    Strafford has wife and children, household cares,
    Just as if we had never been. Ah, sir,
    You are moved, even you, a solitary man
    Wed to your cause--to England if you will!

    _Pym._ Yes--think, my soul--to England! Draw not back!

    _Cha._ Prevent that Bill, sir! All your course seems fair
    Till now. Why, in the end, 't is I should sign
    The warrant for his death! You have said much
    I ponder on; I never meant, indeed,
    Strafford should serve me any more. I take
    The Commons' counsel; but this Bill is yours--
    Nor worthy of its leader: care not, sir,
    For that, however! I will quite forget
    You named it to me. You are satisfied?

    _Pym._ Listen to me, sir! Eliot laid his hand,
    Wasted and white, upon my forehead once;
    Wentworth--he 's gone now!--has talked on, whole nights,
    And I beside him; Hampden loves me: sir,
    How can I breathe and not wish England well,
    And her King well?

    _Cha._      I thank you, sir, who leave
    That King his servant. Thanks, sir!

    _Pym._                       Let me speak!
    --Who may not speak again; whose spirit yearns
    For a cool night after this weary day:
    --Who would not have my soul turn sicker yet
    In a new task, more fatal, more august,
    More full of England's utter weal or woe.
    I thought, sir, could I find myself with you,
    After this trial, alone, as man to man--
    I might say something, warn you, pray you, save--
    Mark me, King Charles, save--you!
    But God must do it. Yet I warn you, sir--
    (With Strafford's faded eyes yet full on me)
    As you would have no deeper question moved
    --"How long the Many must endure the One,"
    Assure me, sir, if England give assent
    To Strafford's death, you will not interfere!

    _Cha._ God forsakes me. I am in a net
    And cannot move. Let all be as you say!

                (_Enter_ Lady CARLISLE.)

    _Lady Car._ He loves you--looking beautiful with joy
    Because you sent me! he would spare you all
    The pain! he never dreamed you would forsake
    Your servant in the evil day--nay, see
    Your scheme returned! That generous heart of his!
    He needs it not--or, needing it, disdains
    A course that might endanger you--you, sir,
    Whom Strafford from his inmost soul ...

    [_Seeing_ PYM.]         Well met!
    No fear for Strafford! All that 's true and brave
    On your own side shall help us: we are now
    Stronger than ever.

                        Ha--what, sir, is this?
    All is not well! What parchment have you there?

    _Pym._ Sir, much is saved us both.

    _Lady Car._                      This Bill! Your lip
    Whitens--you could not read one line to me
    Your voice would falter so!

    _Pym._               No recreant yet!
    The great word went from England to my soul,
    And I arose. The end is very near.

    _Lady Car._ I am to save him! All have shrunk beside;
    'T is only I am left. Heaven will make strong
    The hand now as the heart. Then let both die!

       *       *       *       *       *


SCENE I. _Whitehall._


    _Hol._ Tell the King then! Come in with me!

    _Lady Car._                               Not so!
    He must not hear till it succeeds.

    _Hol._                      Succeed?
    No dream was half so vain--you 'd rescue Strafford
    And outwit Pym! I cannot tell you ... lady,
    The block pursues me, and the hideous show.
    To-day ... is it to-day? And all the while
    He 's sure of the King's pardon. Think, I have
    To tell this man he is to die. The King
    May rend his hair, for me! I 'll not see Strafford.

    _Lady Car._ Only, if I succeed, remember--Charles
    Has saved him. He would hardly value life
    Unless his gift. My stanch friends wait. Go in--
    You must go in to Charles!

    _Hol._              And all beside
    Left Stafford long ago. The King has signed
    The warrant for his death! the Queen was sick
    Of the eternal subject. For the Court,--
    The Trial was amusing in its way,
    Only too much of it: the Earl withdrew
    In time. But you, fragile, alone, so young,
    Amid rude mercenaries--you devise
    A plan to save him! Even though it fails,
    What shall reward you!

    _Lady Car._     I may go, you think,
    To France with him? And you reward me, friend,
    Who lived with Strafford even from his youth
    Before he set his heart on state-affairs
    And they bent down that noble brow of his.
    I have learned somewhat of his latter life,
    And all the future I shall know: but, Hollis,
    I ought to make his youth my own as well.
    Tell me,--when he is saved!

    _Hol._               My gentle friend,
    He should know all and love you, but 't is vain!

    _Lady Car._ Love? no--too late now! Let him love the King!
    'Tis the King's scheme! I have your word, remember!
    We 'll keep the old delusion up. But, quick!
    Quick! Each of us has work to do, beside!
    Go to the King! I hope--Hollis--I hope!
    Say nothing of my scheme! Hush, while we speak
    Think where he is! Now for my gallant friends!

    _Hol._ Where he is? Calling wildly upon Charles,
    Guessing his fate, pacing the prison-floor.
    Let the King tell him! I 'll not look on Strafford.

SCENE II. _The Tower._

STRAFFORD _sitting with his_ Children. _They sing._

    O bell' andare
    Per barca in mare,
    Verso la sera
    Di Primavera!



    O bell' an-da-re, Per bar-ca in
    ma-re, Ver-so la se-ra, Di pri-ma-
    ve-ra, O bell' an-da-re,

_slentando e diminuendo._

    O bell' an-da   -   -   re.

    _William._ The boat 's in the broad moonlight all this while--

                    Verso la sera
                    Di Primavera!

    And the boat shoots from underneath the moon
    Into the shadowy distance; only still
    You hear the dipping oar--

                    Verso la sera,

    And faint, and fainter, and then all 's quite gone,
    Music and light and all, like a lost star.

    _Anne._ But you should sleep, father: you were to sleep.

    _Straf._ I do sleep, Anne; or if not--you must know
    There 's such a thing as ...

    _Wil._             You 're too tired to sleep?

    _Straf._ It will come by-and-by and all day long,
    In that old quiet house I told you of:
    We sleep safe there.

    _Anne._         Why not in Ireland?

    _Straf._                            No!
    Too many dreams!--That song 's for Venice, William:
    You know how Venice looks upon the map--
    Isles that the mainland hardly can let go?

    _Wil._ You 've been to Venice, father?

    _Straf._                             I was young, then.

    _Wil._ A city with no King; that 's why I like
    Even a song that comes from Venice.

    _Straf._                       William?

    _Wil._ Oh, I know why! Anne, do you love the King?
    But I 'll see Venice for myself one day.

    _Straf._ See many lands, boy--England last of all,--
    That way you 'll love her best.

    _Wil._                    Why do men say
    You sought to ruin her, then?

    _Straf._                 Ah,--they say that.

    _Wil._ Why?

    _Straf._ I suppose they must have words to say,
    As you to sing.

    _Anne._    But they make songs beside:
    Last night I heard one, in the street beneath,
    That called you ... Oh, the names!

    _Wil._                      Don't mind her, father!
    They soon left off when I cried out to them.

    _Straf._ We shall so soon be out of it, my boy!
    'T is not worth while: who heeds a foolish song?

    _Wil._ Why, not the King.

    _Straf._                Well: it has been the fate
    Of better; and yet,--wherefore not feel sure
    That Time, who in the twilight comes to mend
    All the fantastic day's caprice, consign
    To the low ground once more the ignoble Term,
    And raise the Genius on his orb again,--
    That Time will do me right?

    _Anne._              (Shall we sing, William?
    He does not look thus when we sing.)

    _Straf._                     For Ireland,
    Something is done: too little, but enough
    To show what might have been.

    _Wil._                 (I have no heart
    To sing now! Anne, how very sad he looks!
    Oh, I so hate the King for all he says!)

    _Straf._ Forsook them? What, the common songs will run
    That I forsook the People? Nothing more?
    Ay, Fame, the busy scribe, will pause, no doubt,
    Turning a deaf ear to her thousand slaves
    Noisy to be enrolled,--will register
    The curious glosses, subtle notices,
    Ingenious clearings-up one fain would see
    Beside that plain inscription of The Name--
    The Patriot Pym, or the Apostate Strafford!
      [_The_ Children _resume their song timidly, but break off._

    (_Enter_ HOLLIS _and an_ Attendant.)

    _Straf._ No,--Hollis? in good time!--Who is he?

    _Hol._                                        One
    That must be present.

    _Straf._        Ah--I understand.
    They will not let me see poor Laud alone.
    How politic! They 'd use me by degrees
    To solitude: and, just as you came in,
    I was solicitous what life to lead
    When Strafford 's "not so much as Constable
    In the King's service." Is there any means
    To keep one's self awake? What would you do
    After this bustle, Hollis, in my place?

    _Hol._ Strafford!

    _Straf._        Observe, not but that Pym and you
    Will find me news enough--news I shall hear
    Under a quince-tree by a fish-pond side
    At Wentworth. Garrard must be re-engaged
    My newsman. Or, a better project now--
    What if when all 's consummated, and the Saints
    Reign, and the Senate's work goes swimingly,--
    What if I venture up, some day, unseen,
    To saunter through the Town, notice how Pym,
    Your Tribune, likes Whitehall, drop quietly
    Into a tavern, hear a point discussed,
    As, whether Strafford's name were John or James--
    And be myself appealed to--I, who shall
    Myself have near forgotten!

    _Hol._               I would speak ...

    _Straf._ Then you shall speak,--not now. I want just now,
    To hear the sound of my own tongue. This place
    Is full of ghosts.

    _Hol._      Nay, you must hear me, Strafford!

    _Straf._ Oh, readily! Only, one rare thing more,--
    The minister! Who will advise the King,
    Turn his Sejanus, Richelieu and what not,
    And yet have health--children, for aught I know--
    My patient pair of traitors! Ah,--but, William--
    Does not his cheek grow thin?

    _Wil._                 'T is you look thin, Father!

    _Straf._ A scamper o'er the breezy wolds
    Sets all to-rights.

    _Hol._       You cannot sure forget
    A prison-roof is o'er you, Strafford?

    _Straf._                       No,
    Why, no. I would not touch on that, the first.
    I left you that. Well, Hollis? Say at once,
    The King can find no time to set me free!
    A mask at Theobald's?

    _Hol._         Hold: no such affair
    Detains him.

    _Straf._ True: what needs so great a matter?
    The Queen's lip may be sore. Well: when he pleases,--
    Only, I want the air: it vexes flesh
    To be pent up so long.

    _Hol._          The King--I bear
    His message, Strafford: pray you, let me speak!

    _Straf._ Go, William! Anne, try o'er your song again!
                                     [_The_ Children _retire._
    They shall be loyal, friend, at all events.
    I know your message: you have nothing new
    To tell me: from the first I guessed as much.
    I know, instead of coming here himself,
    Leading me forth in public by the hand,
    The King prefers to leave the door ajar
    As though I were escaping--bids me trudge
    While the mob gapes upon some show prepared
    On the other side of the river! Give at once
    His order of release! I 've heard, as well,
    Of certain poor manœuvres to avoid
    The granting pardon at his proper risk;
    First, he must prattle somewhat to the Lords,
    Must talk a trifle with the Commons first,
    Be grieved I should abuse his confidence,
    And far from blaming them, and ... Where 's the order?

    _Hol._ Spare me!

    _Straf._         Why, he 'd not have me steal away?
    With an old doublet and a steeple hat
    Like Prynne's? Be smuggled into France, perhaps?
    Hollis, 't is for my children! 'T was for them
    I first consented to stand day by day
    And give your Puritans the best of words,
    Be patient, speak when called upon, observe
    Their rules, and not return them prompt their lie!
    What 's in that boy of mine that he should prove
    Son to a prison-breaker? I shall stay
    And he 'll stay with me. Charles should know as much,
    He too has children!
    [_Turning to_ HOLLIS'S _companion._] Sir, you feel for me!
    No need to hide that face! Though it have looked
    Upon me from the judgment-seat ... I know
    Strangely, that somewhere it has looked on me ...
    Your coming has my pardon, nay, my thanks:
    For there is one who comes not.

    _Hol._                     Whom forgive,
    As one to die!

    _Straf._    True, all die, and all need
    Forgiveness: I forgive him from my soul.

    _Hol._ 'T is a world's wonder: Strafford, you must die!

    _Straf._ Sir, if your errand is to set me free
    This heartless jest mars much. Ha! Tears in truth?
    We 'll end this! See this paper, warm--feel--warm
    With lying next my heart! Whose hand is there?
    Whose promise? Read, and loud for God to hear!
    "Strafford shall take no hurt"--read it, I say!
    "In person, honor, nor estate"--

    _Hol._                   The King ...

    _Straf._ I could unking him by a breath! You sit
    Where Loudon sat, who came to prophesy
    The certain end, and offer me Pym's grace
    If I 'd renounce the King: and I stood firm
    On the King's faith. The King who lives ...

    _Hol._                               To sign
    The warrant for your death.

    _Straf._             "Put not your trust
    In princes, neither in the sons of men,
    In whom is no salvation!"

    _Hol._            Trust in God!
    The scaffold is prepared: they wait for you:
    He has consented. Cast the earth behind!

    _Cha._ You would not see me, Strafford, at your foot!
    It was wrung from me! Only, curse me not!

    _Hol._ [_To_ STRAFFORD.] As you hope grace and pardon in your need,
    Be merciful to this most wretched man.
                                        [_Voices from within._

                    _Verso la sera
                    Di Primavera._

    _Straf._ You 'll be good to those children, sir? I know
    You 'll not believe her, even should the Queen
    Think they take after one they rarely saw.
    I had intended that my son should live
    A stranger to these matters: but you are
    So utterly deprived of friends! He too
    Must serve you--will you not be good to him?
    Or, stay, sir, do not promise--do not swear!
    You, Hollis--do the best you can for me!
    I 've not a soul to trust to: Wandesford 's dead,
    And you 've got Radcliffe safe, Laud's turn comes next:
    I 've found small time of late for my affairs,
    But I trust any of you, Pym himself--
    No one could hurt them: there 's an infant, too,--
    These tedious cares! Your Majesty could spare them.
    Nay--pardon me, my King! I had forgotten
    Your education, trials, much temptation,
    Some weakness: there escaped a peevish word--
    'T is gone: I bless you at the last. You know
    All 's between you and me: what has the world
    To do with it? Farewell!

    _Cha._ [_at the door._] Balfour! Balfour!

                  (_Enter_ BALFOUR.)

    The Parliament!--go to them: I grant all
    Demands. Their sittings shall be permanent:
    Tell them to keep their money if they will:
    I 'll come to them for every coat I wear
    And every crust I eat: only I choose
    To pardon Strafford. As the Queen shall choose!
    --You never heard the People howl for blood,

    _Balfour._ Your Majesty may hear them now:
    The walls can hardly keep their murmurs out:
    Please you retire!

    _Cha._      Take all the troops, Balfour!

    _Bal._ There are some hundred thousand of the crowd.

    _Cha._ Come with me, Strafford! You 'll not fear, at least!

    _Straf._ Balfour, say nothing to the world of this!
    I charge you, as a dying man, forget
    You gazed upon this agony of one ...
    Of one ... or if ... why, you may say, Balfour,
    The King was sorry: 'tis no shame in him:
    Yes, you may say he even wept, Balfour,
    And that I walked the lighter to the block
    Because of it. I shall walk lightly, sir!
    Earth fades, heaven breaks on me: I shall stand next
    Before God's throne: the moment 's close at hand
    When man the first, last time, has leave to lay
    His whole heart bare before its Maker, leave
    To clear up the long error of a life
    And choose one happiness for evermore.
    With all mortality about me, Charles,
    The sudden wreck, the dregs of violent death--
    What if, despite the opening angel-song,
    There penetrate one prayer for you? Be saved
    Through me! Bear witness, no one could prevent
    My death! Lead on! ere he awake--best, now!
    All must be ready: did you say, Balfour,
    The crowd began to murmur? They 'll be kept
    Too late for sermon at St. Antholin's!
    Now! But tread softly--children are at play
    In the next room. Precede! I follow--

        (_Enter_ Lady CARLISLE, _with many_ Attendants.)

    _Lady Car_                       Me!
    Follow me, Strafford, and be saved! The King?
    [_To the_ KING.] Well--as you ordered, they are ranged without,
    The convoy ... [_seeing the_ KING'S _state._]
    [_To_ STRAFFORD.] You know all, then! Why, I thought
    It looked best that the King should save you,--Charles
    Alone; 't is a shame that you should owe me aught.
    Or no, not shame! Strafford, you 'll not feel shame
    At being saved by me?

    _Hol._           All true! Oh Strafford,
    She saves you! all her deed! this lady's deed!
    And is the boat in readiness? You, friend,
    Are Billingsley, no doubt. Speak to her, Strafford!
    See how she trembles, waiting for your voice!
    The world 's to learn its bravest story yet.

    _Lady Car._ Talk afterward! Long nights in France enough,
    To sit beneath the vines and talk of home.

    _Straf._ You love me, child? Ah, Strafford can be loved
    As well as Vane! I could escape, then?

    _Lady Car._                       Haste!
    Advance the torches, Bryan!

    _Straf._             I will die.
    They call me proud: but England had no right,
    When she encountered me--her strength to mine--
    To find the chosen foe a craven. Girl,
    I fought her to the utterance, I fell,
    I am hers now, and I will die. Beside,
    The lookers-on! Eliot is all about
    This place, with his most uncomplaining brow.

    _Lady Car._ Strafford!

    _Straf._             I think if you could know how much
    I love you, you would be repaid, my friend!

    _Lady Car._ Then, for my sake!

    _Straf._                     Even for your sweet sake, I stay.

    _Hol._ For _their_ sake!

    _Straf._                    To bequeath a stain?
    Leave me! Girl, humor me and let me die!

    _Lady Car._ Bid him escape--wake, King! Bid him escape!

    _Straf._ True, I will go! Die and forsake the King?
    I 'll not draw back from the last service.

    _Lady Car._                          Strafford!

    _Straf._ And, after all, what is disgrace to me?
    Let us come, child! That it should end this way!

    Lead then! but I feel strangely: it was not
    To end this way.

    _Lady Car._ Lean--lean on me!

    _Straf._                     My King!
    Oh, had he trusted me--his friend of friends!

    _Lady Car._ I can support him, Hollis!

    _Straf._                             Not this way!
    This gate--I dreamed of it, this very gate.

    _Lady Car._ It opens on the river: our good boat
    Is moored below, our friends are there.

    _Straf._                         The same:
    Only with something ominous and dark,
    Fatal, inevitable.

    _Lady Car._   Strafford! Strafford!

    _Straf._ Not by this gate! I feel what will be there!
    I dreamed of it, I tell you: touch it not!

    _Lady Car._ To save the King,--Strafford, to save the King!

    [_As_ STRAFFORD _opens the door,_ PYM _is discovered with_ HAMPDEN,
      VANE, _etc._ STRAFFORD _falls back:_ PYM _follows slowly and
      confronts him._

    _Pym._ Have I done well? Speak, England! Whose sole sake
    I still have labored for, with disregard
    To my own heart,--for whom my youth was made
    Barren, my manhood waste, to offer up
    Her sacrifice--this friend, this Wentworth here--
    Who walked in youth with me, loved me, it may be,
    And whom, for his forsaking England's cause,
    I hunted by all means (trusting that she
    Would sanctify all means) even to the block
    Which waits for him. And saying this, I feel
    No bitterer pang than first I felt, the hour
    I swore that Wentworth might leave us, but I
    Would never leave him: I do leave him now.
    I render up my charge (be witness, God!)
    To England who imposed it. I have done
    Her bidding--poorly, wrongly,--it may be,
    With ill effects--for I am weak, a man:
    Still, I have done my best, my human best,
    Not faltering for a moment. It is done.
    And this said, if I say ... yes, I will say
    I never loved but one man--David not
    More Jonathan! Even thus, I love him now
    And look for my chief portion in that world
    Where great hearts led astray are turned again,
    (Soon it may be, and, certes, will be soon:
    My mission over, I shall not live long,)--
    Ay, here I know I talk--I dare and must,
    Of England, and her great reward, as all
    I look for there; but in my inmost heart,
    Believe, I think of stealing quite away
    To walk once more with Wentworth--my youth's friend
    Purged from all error, gloriously renewed,
    And Eliot shall not blame us. Then indeed ...
    This is no meeting, Wentworth! Tears increase
    Too hot. A thin mist--is it blood?--enwraps
    The face I loved once. Then, the meeting be!

    _Straf._ I have loved England too; we 'll meet then, Pym;
    As well die now! Youth is the only time
    To think and to decide on a great course:
    Manhood with action follows; but 'tis dreary
    To have to alter our whole life in age--
    The time past, the strength gone! As well die now.
    When we meet, Pym, I 'd be set right--not now!
    Best die. Then if there 's any fault, fault too
    Dies, smothered up. Poor gray old little Laud
    May dream his dream out, of a perfect Church,
    In some blind corner. And there 's no one left.
    I trust the King now wholly to you, Pym!
    And yet, I know not: I shall not be there:
    Friends fail--if he have any. And he 's weak,
    And loves the Queen, and ... Oh, my fate is nothing--
    Nothing! But not that awful head--not that!

    _Pym_. If England shall declare such will to me ...

    _Straf._ Pym, you help England! I, that am to die,
    What I must see! 'tis here--all here! My God,
    Let me but gasp out, in one word of fire,
    How thou wilt plague him, satiating hell!
    What? England that you help, become through you
    A green and putrefying charnel, left
    Our children ... some of us have children, Pym--
    Some who, without that, still must ever wear
    A darkened brow, an over-serious look,
    And never properly be young! No word?
    What if I curse you? Send a strong curse forth
    Clothed from my heart, lapped round with horror till
    She 's fit with her white face to walk the world
    Scaring kind natures from your cause and you--
    Then to sit down with you at the board-head,
    The gathering for prayer ... O speak, but speak!
    ... Creep up, and quietly follow each one home,
    You, you, you, be a nestling care for each
    To sleep with,--hardly moaning in his dreams,
    She gnaws so quietly,--till, lo he starts,
    Gets off with half a heart eaten away!
    Oh, shall you 'scape with less if she 's my child?
    You will not say a word--to me--to Him?

    _Pym._ If England shall declare such will to me ...

    _Straf._ No, not for England now, not for Heaven now,--
    See, Pym, for my sake, mine who kneel to you!
    There, I will thank you for the death, my friend!
    This is the meeting: let me love you well!

    _Pym_. England,--I am thine own! Dost thou exact
    That service? I obey thee to the end.

    _Straf._ O God, I shall die first--I shall die first!


Browning began _Sordello_ in 1837, interrupted his work to write the
earlier parts of _Bells and Pomegranates_, but resumed it and completed
it in 1840, when it was published by Moxon. In 1863, when reprinting
the poem, Browning dedicated it as below to M. Milsand, and in his
dedication wrote practically a preface to the poem.


DEAR FRIEND,--Let the next poem be introduced by your name, therefore
remembered along with one of the deepest of my affections, and so
repay all trouble it ever cost me. I wrote it twenty-five years ago
for only a few, counting even in these on somewhat more care about its
subject than they really had. My own faults of expression were many;
but with care for a man or book such would be surmounted, and without
it what avails the faultlessness of either? I blame nobody, least of
all myself, who did my best then and since; for I lately gave time and
pains to turn my work into what the many might--instead of what the
few must--like; but after all, I imagined another thing at first, and
therefore leave as I find it. The historical decoration was purposely
of no more importance than a background requires; and my stress lay on
the incidents in the development of a soul: little else is worth study.
I, at least, always thought so; you, with many known and unknown to me,
think so; others may one day think so; and whether my attempt remain
for them or not, I trust, though away and past it, to continue ever

R. B.

LONDON, _June 9, 1863._

Concerning this revised edition he wrote to a friend:--

"I do not understand what ---- can mean by saying that Sordello has
been 'rewritten.' I did certainly at one time intend to rewrite much
of it, but changed my mind,--and the edition which I reprinted was the
same in all respects as its predecessors--only with an elucidatory
heading to each page, and some few alterations, presumably for the
better, in the text, such as occur in most of my works. I cannot
remember a single instance of any importance that is rewritten, and I
only suppose that ---- has taken project for performance, and set down
as 'done' what was for a while intended to be done."

For the sake of such elucidation as these head-lines give, they are
introduced here as side-notes.



    Who will, may hear Sordello's story told:
    His story? Who believes me shall behold
    The man, pursue his fortunes to the end,
    Like me: for as the friendless-people's friend
            [Sidenote: A Quixotic attempt.]
    Spied from his hill-top once, despite the din
    And dust of multitudes, Pentapolin
    Named o' the Naked Arm, I single out
    Sordello, compassed murkily about
    With ravage of six long sad hundred years.
    Only believe me. Ye believe?
    Verona ... Never, I should warn you first,
    Of my own choice had this, if not the worst
    Yet not the best expedient, served to tell
    A story I could body forth so well
    By making speak, myself kept out of view,
    The very man as he was wont to do,
    And leaving you to say the rest for him.
    Since, though I might be proud to see the dim
    Abysmal past divide its hateful surge,
    Letting of all men this one man emerge
    Because it pleased me, yet, that moment past,
    I should delight in watching first to last
    His progress as you watch it, not a whit
    More in the secret than yourselves who sit
    Fresh-chapleted to listen. But it seems
    Your setters-forth of unexampled themes,
    Makers of quite new men, producing them,
    Would best chalk broadly on each vesture's hem
    The wearer's quality; or take their stand,
    Motley on back and pointing-pole in hand,
    Beside him. So, for once I face ye, friends,
            [Sidenote: Why the Poet himself addresses his audience--]
    Summoned together from the world's four ends,
    Dropped down from heaven or cast up from hell,
    To hear the story I propose to tell.
    Confess now, poets know the dragnet's trick,
    Catching the dead, if fate denies the quick,
    And shaming her; 'tis not for fate to choose
    Silence or song because she can refuse
    Real eyes to glisten more, real hearts to ache
    Less oft, real brows turn smoother for our sake:
    I have experienced something of her spite;
    But there 's a realm wherein she has no right
    And I have many lovers. Say, but few
    Friends fate accords me? Here they are: now view
    The host I muster! Many a lighted face
    Foul with no vestige of the grave's disgrace;
    What else should tempt them back to taste our air
    Except to see how their successors fare?
    My audience! and they sit, each ghostly man
    Striving to look as living as he can,
    Brother by breathing brother; thou art set,
    Clear-witted critic, by ... but I 'll not fret
    A wondrous soul of them, nor move death's spleen
    Who loves not to unlock them. Friends! I mean
            [Sidenote: Few living, many dead.]
    The living in good earnest--ye elect
    Chiefly for love--suppose not I reject
    Judicious praise, who contrary shall peep,
    Some fit occasion, forth, for fear ye sleep,
    To glean your bland approvals. Then, appear,
            [Sidenote: Shelley departing, Verona appears.]
    Verona! stay--thou, spirit, come not near
    Now--not this time desert thy cloudy place
    To scare me, thus employed, with that pure face!
    I need not fear this audience, I make free
    With them, but then this is no place for thee!
    The thunder-phrase of the Athenian, grown
    Up out of memories of Marathon,
    Would echo like his own sword's griding screech
    Braying a Persian shield,--the silver speech
    Of Sidney's self, the starry paladin,
    Turn intense as a trumpet sounding in
    The knights to tilt,--wert thou to hear! What heart
    Have I to play my puppets, bear my part
    Before these worthies?
                           Lo, the past is hurled
    In twain: up-thrust, out-staggering on the world,
    Subsiding into shape, a darkness rears
    Its outline, kindles at the core, appears
    Verona. 'Tis six hundred years and more
    Since an event. The Second Friedrich wore
    The purple, and the Third Honorius filled
    The holy chair. That autumn eve was stilled:
    A last remains of sunset dimly burned
    O'er the far forests, like a torch-flame turned
    By the wind back upon its bearer's hand
    In one long flare of crimson; as a brand,
    The woods beneath lay black. A single eye
    From all Verona cared for the soft sky.
    But, gathering in its ancient market-place,
    Talked group with restless group; and not a face
    But wrath made livid, for among them were
    Death's stanch purveyors, such as have in care
    To feast him. Fear had long since taken root
    In every breast, and now these crushed its fruit.
    The ripe hate, like a wine: to note the way
    It worked while each grew drunk! Men grave and gray
    Stood, with shut eyelids, rocking to and fro,
            [Sidenote: How her Guelfs are discomfited.]
    Letting the silent luxury trickle slow
    About the hollows where a heart should be;
    But the young gulped with a delirious glee
    Some foretaste of their first debauch in blood
    At the fierce news: for, be it understood,
    Envoys apprised Verona that her prince
    Count Richard of Saint Boniface, joined since
    A year with Azzo, Este's Lord, to thrust
    Taurello Salinguerra, prime in trust
    With Ecelin Romano, from his seat
    Ferrara,--over-zealous in the feat
    And stumbling on a peril unaware,
    Was captive, trammelled in his proper snare,
    They phrase it, taken by his own intrigue.
            [Sidenote: Why they entreat the Lombard League,]
    Immediate succor from the Lombard League
    Of fifteen cities that affect the Pope,
    For Azzo, therefore, and his fellow-hope
    Of the Guelf cause, a glory overcast!
    Men's faces, late agape, are now aghast.
    "Prone is the purple pavis; Este makes
    Mirth for the devil when he undertakes
    To play the Ecelin; as if it cost
    Merely your pushing-by to gain a post
    Like his! The patron tells ye, once for all,
    There be sound reasons that preferment fall
    On our beloved" ...
                         "Duke o' the Rood, why not?"
    Shouted an Estian, "grudge ye such a lot?
    The hill-cat boasts some cunning of her own,
    Some stealthy trick to better beasts unknown,
    That quick with prey enough her hunger blunts,
    And feeds her fat while gaunt the lion hunts."
    "Taurello," quoth an envoy, "as in wane
    Dwelt at Ferrara. Like an osprey fain
    To fly but forced the earth his couch to make
    Far inland, till his friend the tempest wake,
    Waits he the Kaiser 's coming; and as yet
    That fast friend sleeps, and he too sleeps: but let
    Only the billow freshen, and he snuffs
    The aroused hurricane ere it enroughs
    The sea it means to cross because of him.
    Sinketh the breeze? His hope-sick eye grows dim;
    Creep closer on the creature! Every day
    Strengthens the Pontiff; Ecelin, they say,
    Dozes now at Oliero, with dry lips
    Telling upon his perished finger-tips
    How many ancestors are to depose
    Ere he be Satan's Viceroy when the doze
    Deposits him in hell. So, Guelfs rebuilt
    Their houses; not a drop of blood was spilt
    When Cino Bocchimpane chanced to meet
    Buccio Virtù--God's wafer, and the street
    Is narrow! Tutti Santi, think, a-swarm
    With Ghibellins, and yet he took no harm!
    This could not last. Off Salinguerra went
    To Padua, Podestà, 'with pure intent,'
    Said he, 'my presence, judged the single bar
    To permanent tranquillity, may jar
    No longer'--so! his back is fairly turned?
    The pair of goodly palaces are burned,
    The gardens ravaged, and our Guelfs laugh, drunk
    A week with joy. The next, their laughter sunk
    In sobs of blood, for they found, some strange way,
            [Sidenote: In their changed fortune at Ferrara:]
    Old Salinguerra back again--I say,
    Old Salinguerra in the town once more
    Uprooting, overturning, flame before,
    Blood fetlock-high beneath him. Azzo fled;
    Who 'scaped the carnage followed; then the dead
    Were pushed aside from Salinguerra's throne,
    He ruled once more Ferrara, all alone,
    Till Azzo, stunned awhile, revived, would pounce
    Coupled with Boniface, like lynx and ounce,
    On the gorged bird. The burghers ground their teeth
    To see troop after troop encamp beneath
    I' the standing-corn thick o'er the scanty patch
    It took so many patient months to snatch
    Out of the marsh; while just within their walls
    Men fed on men. At length Taurello calls
    A parley: 'let the Count wind up the war!'
    Richard, light-hearted as a plunging star,
    Agrees to enter for the kindest ends
    Ferrara, flanked with fifty chosen friends,
    No horse-boy more, for fear your timid sort
    Should fly Ferrara at the bare report.
    Quietly through the town they rode, jog-jog;
    'Ten, twenty, thirty,--curse the catalogue
    Of burnt Guelf houses! Strange, Taurello shows
    Not the least sign of life'--whereat arose
    A general growl: 'How? With his victors by?
    I and my Veronese? My troops and I?
    Receive us, was your word?' So jogged they on,
    Nor laughed their host too openly: once gone
    Into the trap!"--
                       Six hundred years ago!
    Such the time's aspect and peculiar woe
    (Yourselves may spell it yet in chronicles,
    Albeit the worm, our busy brother, drills
    His sprawling path through letters anciently
    Made fine and large to suit some abbot's eye)
    When the new Hohenstauffen dropped the mask,
    Flung John of Brienne's favor from his casque,
    Forswore crusading, had no mind to leave
    Saint Peter's proxy leisure to retrieve
    Losses to Otho and to Barbaross,
    Or make the Alps less easy to recross;
    And, thus confirming Pope Honorius' fear,
    Was excommunicate that very year.
    "The triple-bearded Teuton come to life!"
    Groaned the Great League; and, arming for the strife,
            [Sidenote: For the times grow stormy again.]
    Wide Lombardy, on tiptoe to begin,
    Took up, as it was Guelf or Ghibellin,
    Its cry; what cry?
                       "The Emperor to come!"
    His crowd of feudatories, all and some,
    That leapt down with a crash of swords, spears, shields,
    One fighter on his fellow, to our fields,
    Scattered anon, took station here and there,
    And carried it, till now, with little care--
    Cannot but cry for him; how else rebut
    Us longer? Cliffs, an earthquake suffered jut
    In the mid-sea, each domineering crest
    Which naught save such another throe can wrest
    From out (conceive) a certain chokeweed grown
    Since o'er the waters, twine and tangle thrown
    Too thick, too fast accumulating round,
    Too sure to over-riot and confound
    Ere long each brilliant islet with itself,
    Unless a second shock save shoal and shelf,
    Whirling the sea-drift wide: alas, the bruised
    And sullen wreck! Sunlight to be diffused
    For that! Sunlight, 'neath which, a scum at first,
    The million fibres of our chokeweed nurst
    Dispread themselves, mantling the troubled main,
    And, shattered by those rocks, took hold again,
    So kindly blazed it--that same blaze to brood
    O'er every cluster of the multitude
    Still hazarding new clasps, ties, filaments,
    An emulous exchange of pulses, vents
    Of nature into nature; till some growth
    Unfancied yet, exuberantly clothe
            [Sidenote: The Ghibellins' wish: the Guelfs' wish.]
    A surface solid now, continuous, one:
    "The Pope, for us the People, who begun
    The People, carries on the People thus,
    To keep that Kaiser off and dwell with us!"
    See you?
             Or say, Two Principles that live
    Each fitly by its Representative.
    "Hill-cat"--who called him so?--the gracefullest
    Adventurer, the ambiguous stranger-guest
    Of Lombardy (sleek but that ruffling fur,
    Those talons to their sheath!) whose velvet purr
    Soothes jealous neighbors when a Saxon scout
    --Arpo or Yoland, is it?--one without
    A country or a name, presumes to couch
    Beside their noblest; until men avouch
    That, of all Houses in the Trevisan,
    Conrad descries no fitter, rear or van,
            [Sidenote: How Ecelo's house grew head of those,]
    Than Ecelo! They laughed as they enrolled
    That name at Milan on the page of gold,
    Godego's lord,--Ramon, Marostica,
    Cartiglion, Bassano, Loria,
    And every sheep-cote on the Suabian's fief!
    No laughter when his son, "the Lombard Chief"
    Forsooth, as Barbarossa's path was bent
    To Italy along the Vale of Trent,
    Welcomed him at Roncaglia! Sadness now--
    The hamlets nested on the Tyrol's brow,
    The Asolan and Euganean hills,
    The Rhetian and the Julian, sadness fills
    Them all, for Ecelin vouchsafes to stay
    Among and care about them; day by day
    Choosing this pinnacle, the other spot,
    A castle building to defend a cot,
    A cot built for a castle to defend,
    Nothing but castles, castles, nor an end
    To boasts how mountain ridge may join with ridge
    By sunken gallery and soaring bridge.
    He takes, in brief, a figure that beseems
    The griesliest nightmare of the Church's dreams,
    --A Signory firm-rooted, unestranged
    From its old interests, and nowise changed
    By its new neighborhood: perchance the vaunt
    Of Otho, "my own Este shall supplant
    Your Este," come to pass. The sire led in
    A son as cruel; and this Ecelin
    Had sons, in turn, and daughters sly and tall
    And curling and compliant; but for all
    Romano (so they styled him) throve, that neck
    Of his so pinched and white, that hungry cheek
    Proved 't was some fiend, not him, the man's-flesh went
    To feed: whereas Romano's instrument,
    Famous Taurello Salinguerra, sole
    I' the world, a tree whose boughs were slipt the bole
    Successively, why should not he shed blood
    To further a design? Men understood
    Living was pleasant to him as he wore
    His careless surcoat, glanced some missive o'er,
    Propped on his truncheon in the public way,
    While his lord lifted writhen hands to pray,
    Lost at Oliero's convent.
                              Hill-cats, face
    Our Azzo, our Guelf-Lion! Why disgrace
            [Sidenote: As Azzo Lord of Este heads these.]
    A worthiness conspicuous near and far
    (Atii at Rome while free and consular,
    Este at Padua who repulsed the Hun)
    By trumpeting the Church's princely son?
    --Styled Patron of Rovigo's Polesine,
    Ancona's march, Ferrara's ... ask, in fine,
    Our chronicles, commenced when some old monk
    Found it intolerable to be sunk
    (Vexed to the quick by his revolting cell)
    Quite out of summer while alive and well:
    Ended when by his mat the Prior stood,
    'Mid busy promptings of the brotherhood,
    Striving to coax from his decrepit brains
    The reason Father Porphyry took pains
    To blot those ten lines out which used to stand
    First on their charter drawn by Hildebrand.
      The same night wears. Verona's rule of yore
            [Sidenote: Count Richard's Palace at Verona.]
    Was vested in a certain Twenty-four;
    And while within his palace these debate
    Concerning Richard and Ferrara's fate,
    Glide we by clapping doors, with sudden glare
    Of cressets vented on the dark, nor care
    For aught that 's seen or heard until we shut
    The smother in, the lights, all noises but
    The carroch's booming: safe at last! Why strange
    Such a recess should lurk behind a range
    Of banquet-rooms? Your finger--thus--you push
    A spring, and the wall opens, would you rush
    Upon the banqueters, select your prey,
    Waiting (the slaughter-weapons in the way
    Strewing this very bench) with sharpened ear
    A preconcerted signal to appear;
    Or if you simply crouch with beating heart,
            [Sidenote: Of the couple found therein,]
    Bearing in some voluptuous pageant part
    To startle them. Nor mutes nor masquers now;
    Nor any ... does that one man sleep whose brow
    The dying lamp-flame sinks and rises o'er?
    What woman stood beside him? not the more
    Is he unfastened from the earnest eyes
    Because that arras fell between! Her wise
    And lulling words are yet about the room,
    Her presence wholly poured upon the gloom
    Down even to her vesture's creeping stir.
    And so reclines he, saturate with her,
    Until an outcry from the square beneath
    Pierces the charm: he springs up, glad to breathe,
    Above the cunning element, and shakes
    The stupor off as (look you) morning breaks
    On the gay dress, and, near concealed by it,
    The lean frame like a half-burnt taper, lit
    Erst at some marriage-feast, then laid away
    Till the Armenian bridegroom's dying day,
    In his wool wedding-robe.
                               For he--for he,
    Gate-vein of this hearts' blood of Lombardy,
    (If I should falter now)--for he is thine!
    Sordello, thy forerunner, Florentine!
    A herald-star I know thou didst absorb
    Relentless into the consummate orb
    That scared it from its right to roll along
    A sempiternal path with dance and song
    Fulfilling its allotted period,
    Serenest of the progeny of God--
    Who yet resigns it not! His darling stoops
    With no quenched lights, desponds with no blank troops
    Of disenfranchised brilliances, for, blent
    Utterly with thee, its shy element
    Like thine upburneth prosperous and clear.
    Still, what if I approach the august sphere
    Named now with only one name, disentwine
    That under-current soft and argentine
    From its fierce mate in the majestic mass
    Leavened as the sea whose fire was mixt with glass
    In John's transcendent vision,--launch once more
    That lustre? Dante, pacer of the shore
    Where glutted hell disgorgeth filthiest gloom,
    Unbitten by its whirring sulphur-spume--
    Or whence the grieved and obscure waters slope
    Into a darkness quieted by hope;
    Plucker of amaranths grown beneath God's eye
    In gracious twilights where his chosen lie,--
    I would do this! If I should falter now!
            [Sidenote: One belongs to Dante; his Birthplace.]
    In Mantua territory half is slough,
    Half pine-tree forest; maples, scarlet oaks
    Breed o'er the river-beds; even Mincio chokes
    With sand the summer through: but 't is morass
    In winter up to Mantua walls. There was,
    Some thirty years before this evening's coil,
    One spot reclaimed from the surrounding spoil,
    Goito; just a castle built amid
    A few low mountains; firs and larches hid
    Their main defiles, and rings of vineyard bound
    The rest. Some captured creature in a pound,
    Whose artless wonder quite precludes distress,
    Secure beside in its own loveliness,
    So peered with airy head, below, above,
    The castle at its toils, the lapwings love
    To glean among at grape-time. Pass within.
    A maze of corridors contrived for sin,
    Dusk winding-stairs, dim galleries got past,
    You gain the inmost chambers, gain at last
    A maple-panelled room: that haze which seems
    Floating about the panel, if there gleams
    A sunbeam over it, will turn to gold
    And in light-graven characters unfold
    The Arab's wisdom everywhere; what shade
    Marred them a moment, those slim pillars made,
    Cut like a company of palms to prop
    The roof, each kissing top entwined with top,
    Leaning together; in the carver's mind
    Some knot of bacchanals, flushed cheek combined
    With straining forehead, shoulders purpled, hair
    Diffused between, who in a goat-skin bear
    A vintage; graceful sister-palms! But quick
    To the main wonder, now. A vault, see; thick
            [Sidenote: A Vault inside the Castle at Goito,]
    Black shade about the ceiling, though fine slits
    Across the buttress suffer light by fits
    Upon a marvel in the midst. Nay, stoop--
    A dullish gray-streaked cumbrous font, a group
    Round it,--each side of it, where'er one sees,--
    Upholds it; shrinking Caryatides
    Of just-tinged marble like Eve's lilied flesh
    Beneath her maker's finger when the fresh
    First pulse of life shot brightening the snow.
    The font's edge burdens every shoulder, so
    They muse upon the ground, eyelids half closed;
    Some, with meek arms behind their backs disposed,
    Some, crossed above their bosoms, some, to veil
    Their eyes, some, propping chin and cheek so pale,
    Some, hanging slack an utter helpless length
    Dead as a buried vestal whose whole strength
    Goes when the grate above shuts heavily.
    So dwell these noiseless girls, patient to see,
    Like priestesses because of sin impure
    Penanced forever, who resigned endure,
    Having that once drunk sweetness to the dregs.
    And every eve, Sordello's visit begs
    Pardon for them: constant as eve he came
    To sit beside each in her turn, the same
    As one of them, a certain space: and awe
            [Sidenote: And what Sordello would see there.]
    Made a great indistinctness till he saw
    Sunset slant cheerful through the buttress-chinks,
    Gold seven times globed; surely our maiden shrinks
    And a smile stirs her as if one faint grain
    Her load were lightened, one shade less the stain
    Obscured her forehead, yet one more bead slipt
    From off the rosary whereby the crypt
    Keeps count of the contritions of its charge?
    Then with a step more light, a heart more large,
    He may depart, leave her and every one
    To linger out the penance in mute stone.
    Ah, but Sordello? 'T is the tale I mean
    To tell you.
                 In this castle may be seen,
    On the hill-tops, or underneath the vines,
    Or eastward by the mound of firs and pines
    That shuts out Mantua, still in loneliness,
    A slender boy in a loose page's dress,
    Sordello: do but look on him awhile
    Watching ('t is autumn) with an earnest smile
    The noisy flock of thievish birds at work
    Among the yellowing vineyards; see him lurk
            [Sidenote: His boyhood in the domain of Ecelin.]
    ('T is winter with its sullenest of storms)
    Beside that arras-length of broidered forms,
    On tiptoe, lifting in both hands a light
    Which makes yon warrior's visage flutter bright
    --Ecelo, dismal father of the brood,
    And Ecelin, close to the girl he wooed,
    Auria, and their Child, with all his wives
    From Agnes to the Tuscan that survives,
    Lady of the castle, Adelaide. His face
    --Look, now he turns away! Yourselves shall trace
    (The delicate nostril swerving wide and fine,
    A sharp and restless lip, so well combine
    With that calm brow) a soul fit to receive
    Delight at every sense; you can believe
    Sordello foremost in the regal class
    Nature has broadly severed from her mass
    Of men, and framed for pleasure, as she frames
    Some happy lands, that have luxurious names,
    For loose fertility; a footfall there
    Suffices to upturn to the warm air
    Half-germinating spices; mere decay
    Produces richer life; and day by day
    New pollen on the lily-petal grows,
    And still more labyrinthine buds the rose.
    You recognize at once the finer dress
    Of flesh that amply lets in loveliness
    At eye and ear, while round the rest is furled
    (As though she would not trust them with her world)
    A veil that shows a sky not near so blue,
    And lets but half the sun look fervid through.
            [Sidenote: How a poet's soul comes into play.]
    How can such love?--like souls on each full-fraught
    Discovery brooding, blind at first to aught
    Beyond its beauty, till exceeding love
    Becomes an aching weight; and, to remove
    A curse that haunts such natures--to preclude
    Their finding out themselves can work no good
    To what they love nor make it very blest
    By their endeavor,--they are fain invest
    The lifeless thing with life from their own soul,
    Availing it to purpose, to control,
    To dwell distinct and have peculiar joy
    And separate interests that may employ
    That beauty fitly, for its proper sake.
    Nor rest they here; fresh births of beauty wake
    Fresh homage, every grade of love is past,
    With every mode of loveliness: then cast
    Inferior idols off their borrowed crown
    Before a coming glory. Up and down
    Runs arrowy fire, while earthly forms combine
    To throb the secret forth; a touch divine--
    And the sealed eyeball owns the mystic rod;
    Visibly through his garden walketh God.
            [Sidenote: What denotes such a soul's progress.]
    So fare they. Now revert. One character
    Denotes them through the progress and the stir,--
    A need to blend with each external charm,
    Bury themselves, the whole heart wide and warm,--
    In something not themselves; they would belong
    To what they worship--stronger and more strong
    Thus prodigally fed--which gathers shape
    And feature, soon imprisons past escape
    The votary framed to love and to submit
    Nor ask, as passionate he kneels to it,
    Whence grew the idol's empery. So runs
    A legend; light had birth ere moons and suns,
    Flowing through space a river and alone,
    Till chaos burst and blank the spheres were strown
    Hither and thither, foundering and blind:
    When into each of them rushed light--to find
    Itself no place, foiled of its radiant chance.
    Let such forego their just inheritance!
    For there 's a class that eagerly looks, too,
    On beauty, but, unlike the gentler crew,
    Proclaims each new revealment born a twin
    With a distinctest consciousness within,
    Referring still the quality, now first
    Revealed, to their own soul--its instinct nursed
    In silence, now remembered better, shown
    More thoroughly, but not the less their own;
    A dream come true; the special exercise
            [Sidenote: How poets class at length--]
    Of any special function that implies
    The being fair, or good, or wise, or strong,
    Dormant within their nature all along--
    Whose fault? So, homage, other souls direct
    Without, turns inward. "How should this deject
    Thee, soul?" they murmur; "wherefore strength be quelled
    Because, its trivial accidents withheld,
    Organs are missed that clog the world, inert,
    Wanting a will, to quicken and exert,
    Like thine--existence cannot satiate,
    Cannot surprise? Laugh thou at envious fate,
    Who, from earth's simplest combination stampt
    With individuality--uncrampt
    By living its faint elemental life,
    Dost soar to heaven's complexest essence, rife
    With grandeurs, unaffronted to the last,
            [Sidenote: For honor,]
    Equal to being all!"
                         In truth? Thou hast
    Life, then--wilt challenge life for us: our race
    Is vindicated so, obtains its place
    In thy ascent, the first of us; whom we
            [Sidenote: Or shame--]
    May follow, to the meanest, finally,
    With our more bounded wills?
                                 Ah, but to find
    A certain mood enervate such a mind,
    Counsel it slumber in the solitude
    Thus reached, nor, stooping, task for mankind's good
    Its nature just as life and time accord
    "--Too narrow an arena to reward
    Emprise--the world's occasion worthless since
    Not absolutely fitted to evince
    Its mastery!" Or if yet worse befall,
    And a desire possess it to put all
    That nature forth, forcing our straitened sphere
    Contain it,--to display completely here
    The mastery another life should learn,
    Thrusting in time eternity's concern,--
    So that Sordello ...
            [Sidenote: Which may the Gods avert]
                           Fool, who spied the mark
    Of leprosy upon him, violet-dark
    Already as he loiters? Born just now,
    With the new century, beside the glow
    And efflorescence out of barbarism;
    Witness a Greek or two from the abysm
    That stray through Florence-town with studious air,
    Calming the chisel of that Pisan pair:
    If Nicolo should carve a Christus yet!
    While at Siena is Guidone set,
    Forehead on hand; a painful birth must be
    Matured ere Saint Eufemia's sacristy
    Or transept gather fruits of one great gaze
    At the moon: look you! The same orange haze,--
    The same blue stripe round that--and, in the midst,
    Thy spectral whiteness, Mother-maid, who didst
    Pursue the dizzy painter!
                              Woe, then, worth
    Any officious babble letting forth
    The leprosy confirmed and ruinous
    To spirit lodged in a contracted house!
    Go back to the beginning, rather; blend
    It gently with Sordello's life; the end
    Is piteous, you may see, but much between
    Pleasant enough. Meantime, some pyx to screen
    The full-grown pest, some lid to shut upon
    The goblin! So they found at Babylon,
    (Colleagues, mad Lucius and sage Antonine)
    Sacking the city, by Apollo's shrine,
    In rummaging among the rarities,
    A certain coffer; he who made the prize
    Opened it greedily; and out there curled
    Just such another plague, for half the world
    Was stung. Crawl in then, hag, and couch asquat,
    Keeping that blotchy bosom thick in spot
    Until your time is ripe! The coffer-lid
    Is fastened, and the coffer safely hid
    Under the Loxian's choicest gifts of gold.
      Who will may hear Sordello's story told,
    And now he never could remember when
    He dwelt not at Goito. Calmly, then,
            [Sidenote: From Sordello, now in childhood.]
    About this secret lodge of Adelaide's
    Glided his youth away; beyond the glades
    On the fir-forest border, and the rim
    Of the low range of mountain, was for him
    No other world: but this appeared his own
    To wander through at pleasure and alone.
    The castle too seemed empty; far and wide
    Might he disport; only the northern side
    Lay under a mysterious interdict--
    Slight, just enough remembered to restrict
    His roaming to the corridors, the vault
    Where those font-bearers expiate their fault,
    The maple-chamber, and the little nooks
    And nests, and breezy parapet that looks
    Over the woods to Mantua: there he strolled.
    Some foreign women-servants, very old,
    Tended and crept about him--all his clue
    To the world's business and embroiled ado
    Distant a dozen hill-tops at the most.
            [Sidenote: The delights of his childish fancy,]
    And first a simple sense of life engrossed
    Sordello in his drowsy Paradise;
    The day's adventures for the day suffice--
    Its constant tribute of perceptions strange.
    With sleep and stir in healthy interchange,
    Suffice, and leave him for the next at ease
    Like the great palmer-worm that strips the trees,
    Eats the life out of every luscious plant,
    And, when September finds them sere or scant,
    Puts forth two wondrous winglets, alters quite,
    And hies him after unforeseen delight.
    So fed Sordello, not a shard dissheathed;
    As ever, round each new discovery, wreathed
    Luxuriantly the fancies infantine
    His admiration, bent on making fine
    Its novel friend at any risk, would fling
    In gay profusion forth; a ficklest king,
    Confessed those minions!--eager to dispense
    So much from his own stock of thought and sense
    As might enable each to stand alone
    And serve him for a fellow; with his own,
    Joining the qualities that just before
    Had graced some older favorite. Thus they wore
    A fluctuating halo, yesterday
    Set flicker and to-morrow filched away,--
    Those upland objects each of separate name,
    Each with an aspect never twice the same,
    Waxing and waning as the new-born host
    Of fancies, like a single night's hoar-frost,
            [Sidenote: Which could blow out a great bubble,]
    Gave to familiar things a face grotesque;
    Only, preserving through the mad burlesque
    A grave regard. Conceive! the orpine patch
    Blossoming earliest on the log-house thatch
    The day those archers wound along the vines--
    Related to the Chief that left their lines
    To climb with clinking step the northern stair
    Up to the solitary chambers where
    Sordello never came. Thus thrall reached thrall;
    He o'er-festooning every interval,
    As the adventurous spider, making light
    Of distance, shoots her threads from depth to height,
    From barbican to battlement: so flung
    Fantasies forth and in their centre swung
    Our architect,--the breezy morning fresh
    Above, and merry,--all his waving mesh
    Laughing with lucid dew-drops rainbow-edged.
      This world of ours by tacit pact is pledged
    To laying such a spangled fabric low
    Whether by gradual brush or gallant blow.
    But its abundant will was balked here: doubt
            [Sidenote: Being secure awhile from intrusion.]
    Rose tardily in one so fenced about
    From most that nurtures judgment, care and pain:
    Judgment, that dull expedient we are fain,
    Less favored, to adopt betimes and force
    Stead us, diverted from our natural course
    Of joys--contrive some yet amid the dearth,
    Vary and render them, it may be, worth
    Most we forego. Suppose Sordello hence
    Selfish enough, without a moral sense
    However feeble; what informed the boy
    Others desired a portion in his joy?
    Or say a ruthful chance broke woof and warp--
    A heron's nest beat down by March winds sharp,
    A fawn breathless beneath the precipice,
    A bird with unsoiled breast and unfilmed eyes
    Warm in the brake--could these undo the trance
    Lapping Sordello? Not a circumstance
    That makes for you, friend Naddo! Eat fern-seed
    And peer beside us and report indeed
    If (your word) "genius" dawned with throes and stings
    And the whole fiery catalogue, while springs,
    Summers and winters quietly came and went.
    Time put at length that period to content,
    By right the world should have imposed: bereft
    Of its good offices, Sordello, left
    To study his companions, managed rip
    Their fringe off, learn the true relationship,
    Core with its crust, their nature with his own:
    Amid his wild-wood sights he lived alone.
    As if the poppy felt with him! Though he
    Partook the poppy's red effrontery
    Till Autumn spoiled their fleering quite with rain,
    And, turbanless, a coarse brown rattling crane
    Lay bare. That 's gone: yet why renounce, for that,
    His disenchanted tributaries--flat
    Perhaps, but scarce so utterly forlorn,
    Their simple presence might not well be borne
    Whose parley was a transport once: recall
    The poppy's gifts, it flaunts you, after all,
    A poppy:--why distrust the evidence
    Of each soon satisfied and healthy sense?
            [Sidenote: But it comes; and new-born judgment]
    The new-born judgment answered, "little boots
    Beholding other creatures' attributes
    And having none!" or, say that it sufficed,
    "Yet, could one but possess, one's self," (enticed
    Judgment) "some special office!" Naught beside
    Serves you? "Well then, be somehow justified
    For this ignoble wish to circumscribe
    And concentrate, rather than swell, the tribe
    Of actual pleasures: what, now, from without
    Effects it?--proves, despite a lurking doubt,
    Mere sympathy sufficient, trouble spared?
    That, tasting joys by proxy thus, you fared
            [Sidenote: Decides that he needs sympathizers.]
    The better for them?" Thus much craved his soul.
    Alas, from the beginning love is whole
    And true; if sure of naught beside, most sure
    Of its own truth at least; nor may endure
    A crowd to see its face, that cannot know
    How hot the pulses throb its heart below.
    While its own helplessness and utter want
    Of means to worthily be ministrant
    To what it worships, do but fan the more
    Its flame, exalt the idol far before
    Itself as it would have it ever be.
    Souls like Sordello, on the contrary,
    Coerced and put to shame, retaining will,
    Care little, take mysterious comfort still,
    But look forth tremblingly to ascertain
    If others judge their claims not urged in vain,
    And say for them their stifled thoughts aloud.
    So, they must ever live before a crowd:
    --"Vanity," Naddo tells you.
                                 Whence contrive
    A crowd, now? From these women just alive,
    That archer-troop? Forth glided--not alone
    Each painted warrior, every girl of stone,
    Nor Adelaide (bent double o'er a scroll,
    One maiden at her knees, that eve, his soul
    Shook as he stumbled through the arras'd glooms
    On them, for, 'mid quaint robes and weird perfumes,
    Started the meagre Tuscan up,--her eyes,
    The maiden's, also, bluer with surprise)
    --But the entire out-world: whatever, scraps
    And snatches, song and story, dreams perhaps,
    Conceited the world's offices, and he
    Had hitherto transferred to flower or tree,
    Not counted a befitting heritage
    Each, of its own right, singly to engage
    Some man, no other,--such now dared to stand
    Alone. Strength, wisdom, grace on every hand
    Soon disengaged themselves, and he discerned
    A sort of human life: at least, was turned
            [Sidenote: He therefore creates such a company;]
    A stream of lifelike figures through his brain.
    Lord, liegeman, valvassor and suzerain,
    Ere he could choose, surrounded him; a stuff
    To work his pleasure on; there, sure enough:
    But as for gazing, what shall fix that gaze?
    Are they to simply testify the ways
    He who convoked them sends his soul along
    With the cloud's thunder or a dove's brood-song?
    --While they live each his life, boast each his own
            [Sidenote: Each of which, leading its own life,]
    Peculiar dower of bliss, stand each alone
    In some one point where something dearest loved
    Is easiest gained--far worthier to be proved
    Than aught he envies in the forest-wights!
    No simple and self-evident delights,
    But mixed desires of unimagined range,
    Contrasts or combinations, new and strange,
    Irksome perhaps, yet plainly recognized
    By this, the sudden company--loves prized
    By those who are to prize his own amount
    Of loves. Once care because such make account,
    Allow that foreign recognitions stamp
    The current value, and his crowd shall vamp
    Him counterfeits enough; and so their print
    Be on the piece, 'tis gold, attests the mint.
    And "good," pronounce they whom his new appeal
    Is made to: if their casual print conceal--
    This arbitrary good of theirs o'ergloss
    What he has lived without, nor felt the loss--
    Qualities strange, ungainly, wearisome,
    --What matter? So must speech expand the dumb
    Part-sigh, part-smile with which Sordello, late
    Whom no poor woodland-sights could satiate,
    Betakes himself to study hungrily
    Just what the puppets his crude fantasy
    Supposes notablest,--popes, kings, priests, knights,--
    May please to promulgate for appetites;
    Accepting all their artificial joys
    Not as he views them, but as he employs
    Each shape to estimate the other's stock
    Of attributes, whereon--a marshalled flock
    Of authorized enjoyments--he may spend
    Himself, be men, now, as he used to blend
    With tree and flower--nay more entirely, else
    'T were mockery: for instance, "How excels
    My life that chieftain's?" (who apprised the youth
    Ecelin, here, becomes this month, in truth,
    Imperial Vicar?) "Turns he in his tent
    Remissly? Be it so--my head is bent
    Deliciously amid my girls to sleep.
    What if he stalks the Trentine-pass? Yon steep
    I climbed an hour ago with little toil:
    We are alike there. But can I, too, foil
    The Guelf's paid stabber, carelessly afford
    Saint Mark's a spectacle, the sleight o' the sword
    Baffling the treason in a moment?" Here
    No rescue! Poppy he is none, but peer
    To Ecelin, assuredly: his hand,
    Fashioned no otherwise, should wield a brand
    With Ecelin's success--try, now! He soon
    Was satisfied, returned as to the moon
    From earth: left each abortive boy's attempt
            [Sidenote: Has qualities impossible to a boy,]
    For feats, from failure happily exempt,
    In fancy at his beck. "One day I will
    Accomplish it! Are they not older still
    --Not grown up men and women? 'T is beside
    Only a dream; and though I must abide
    With dreams now, I may find a thorough vent
    For all myself, acquire an instrument
    For acting what these people act; my soul
    Hunting a body out may gain its whole
    Desire some day!" How else express chagrin
    And resignation, show the hope steal in
    With which he let sink from an aching wrist
    The rough-hewn ash-bow? Straight, a gold shaft hissed
    Into the Syrian air, struck Malek down
    Superbly! "Crosses to the breach! God's Town
    Is gained him back!" Why bend rough ash-bows more?
    Thus lives he: if not careless as before,
    Comforted: for one may anticipate,
    Rehearse the future, be prepared when fate
    Shall have prepared in turn real men whose names
    Startle, real places of enormous fames,
    Este abroad and Ecelin at home
    To worship him,--Mantua, Verona, Rome
    To witness it. Who grudges time so spent?
    Rather test qualities to heart's content--
    Summon them, thrice selected, near and far--
    Compress the starriest into one star,
            [Sidenote: So, only to be appropriated in fancy,]
    And grasp the whole at once!
                                 The pageant thinned
    Accordingly; from rank to rank, like wind
    His spirit passed to winnow and divide;
    Back fell the simpler phantasms; every side
    The strong clave to the wise; with either classed
    The beauteous; so, till two or three amassed
    Mankind's beseemingnesses, and reduced
    Themselves eventually, graces loosed,
    Strengths lavished, all to heighten up One Shape
    Whose potency no creature should escape.
    Can it be Friedrich of the bowmen's talk?
    Surely that grape-juice, bubbling at the stalk,
    Is some gray scorching Sarasenic wine
    The Kaiser quaffs with the Miramoline--
    Those swarthy hazel-clusters, seamed and chapped,
    Or filberts russet-sheathed and velvet-capped,
    Are dates plucked from the bough John Brienne sent,
    To keep in mind his sluggish armament
    Of Canaan:--Friedrich's, all the pomp and fierce
    Demeanor! But harsh sounds and sights transpierce
    So rarely the serene cloud where he dwells,
            [Sidenote: And practised on till the real come.]
    Whose looks enjoin, whose lightest words are spells
    On the obdurate! That right arm indeed
    Has thunder for its slave; but where 's the need
    Of thunder if the stricken multitude
    Hearkens, arrested in its angriest mood,
    While songs go up exulting, then dispread,
    Dispart, disperse, lingering overhead
    Like an escape of angels? 'T is the tune,
    Nor much unlike the words his women croon
    Smilingly, colorless and faint-designed
    Each, as a worn-out queen's face some remind
    Of her extreme youth's love-tales. "Eglamor
    Made that!" Half minstrel and half emperor,
    What but ill objects vexed him? Such he slew.
    The kinder sort were easy to subdue
    By those ambrosial glances, dulcet tones;
    And these a gracious hand advanced to thrones
    Beneath him. Wherefore twist and torture this,
    Striving to name afresh the antique bliss,
    Instead of saying, neither less nor more,
            [Sidenote: He means to be perfect--say, Apollo;]
    He had discovered, as our world before,
    Apollo? That shall be the name; nor bid
    Me rag by rag expose how patchwork hid
    The youth--what thefts of every clime and day
    Contributed to purfle the array
    He climbed with (June at deep) some close ravine
    'Mid clatter of its million pebbles sheen,
    Over which, singing soft, the runnel slipped
    Elate with rains: into whose streamlet dipped
    He foot, yet trod, you thought, with unwet sock--
    Though really on the stubs of living rock
    Ages ago it crenelled; vines for roof,
    Lindens for wall; before him, aye aloof,
    Flittered in the cool some azure damsel-fly,
    Born of the simmering quiet, there to die.
    Emerging whence, Apollo still, he spied
    Mighty descents of forest; multiplied
    Tuft on tuft, here, the frolic myrtle-trees,
    There gendered the grave maple stocks at ease,
    And, proud of its observer, straight the wood
    Tried old surprises on him; black it stood
    A sudden barrier ('t was a cloud passed o'er)
    So dead and dense, the tiniest brute no more
    Must pass; yet presently (the cloud dispatched)
    Each clump, behold, was glistening detached
    A shrub, oak-boles shrunk into ilex-stems!
    Yet could not he denounce the stratagems
    He saw thro', till, hours thence, aloft would hang
    White summer-lightnings; as it sank and sprang
    To measure, that whole palpitating breast
    Of heaven, 't was Apollo, nature prest
    At eve to worship.
                       Time stole: by degrees
    The Pythons perish off; his votaries
    Sink to respectful distance; songs redeem
    Their pains, but briefer; their dismissals seem
    Emphatic; only girls are very slow
    To disappear--his Delians! Some that glow
    O' the instant, more with earlier loves to wrench
    Away, reserves to quell, disdains to quench;
    Alike in one material circumstance--
    All soon or late adore Apollo! Glance
    The bevy through, divine Apollo's choice,
            [Sidenote: And Apollo must one day find Daphne.]
    His Daphne! "We secure Count Richard's voice
    In Este's counsels, good for Este's ends
    As our Taurello," say his faded friends,
    "By granting him our Palma!"--the sole child,
    They mean, of Agnes Este who beguiled
    Ecelin, years before this Adelaide
    Wedded and turned him wicked: "but the maid
    Rejects his suit," those sleepy women boast.
    She, scorning all beside, deserves the most
    Sordello: so, conspicuous in his world
    Of dreams sat Palma. How the tresses curled
    Into a sumptuous swell of gold and wound
    About her like a glory! even the ground
    Was bright as with spilt sunbeams; breathe not, breathe
    Not!--poised, see, one leg doubled underneath,
    Its small foot buried in the dimpling snow,
    Rests, but the other, listlessly below,
    O'er the couch-side swings feeling for cool air,
    The vein-streaks swollen a richer violet where
    The languid blood lies heavily; yet calm
    On her slight prop, each flat and outspread palm,
    As but suspended in the act to rise
    By consciousness of beauty, whence her eyes
            [Sidenote: But when will this dream turn truth?]
    Turn with so frank a triumph, for she meets
    Apollo's gaze in the pine glooms.
                                      Time fleets:
    That 's worst! Because the pre-appointed age
    Approaches. Fate is tardy with the stage
    And crowd she promised. Lean he grows and pale,
    Though restlessly at rest. Hardly avail
    Fancies to soothe him. Time steals, yet alone
    He tarries here! The earnest smile is gone.
    How long this might continue matters not;
            [Sidenote: For the time is ripe, and he ready.]
    --Forever, possibly; since to the spot
    None come: our lingering Taurello quits
    Mantua at last, and light our lady flits
    Back to her place disburdened of a care.
    Strange--to be constant here if he is there!
    Is it distrust? Oh, never! for they both
    Goad Ecelin alike, Romano's growth
    Is daily manifest, with Azzo dumb
    And Richard wavering: let but Friedrich come,
    Find matter for the minstrelsy's report!
    --Lured from the Isle and its young Kaiser's court
    To sing us a Messina morning up,
    And, double rillet of a drinking cup,
    Sparkle along to ease the land of drouth,
    Northward to Provence that, and thus far south
    The other. What a method to apprise
    Neighbors of births, espousals, obsequies!
    Which in their very tongue the Troubadour
    Records; and his performance makes a tour,
    For Trouveres bear the miracle about,
    Explain its cunning to the vulgar rout,
    Until the Formidable House is famed
    Over the country--as Taurello aimed,
    Who introduced, although the rest adopt,
    The novelty. Such games, her absence stopped,
    Begin afresh now Adelaide, recluse
    No longer, in the light of day pursues
    Her plans at Mantua: whence an accident
    Which, breaking on Sordello's mixed content,
    Opened, like any flash that cures the blind,
    The veritable business of mankind.


    The woods were long austere with snow: at last
            [Sidenote: This bubble of fancy.]
    Pink leaflets budded on the beech, and fast
    Larches, scattered through pine-tree solitudes,
    Brightened, "as in the slumbrous heart o' the woods
    Our buried year, a witch, grew young again
    To placid incantations, and that stain
    About were from her caldron, green smoke blent
    With those black pines"--so Eglamor gave vent
    To a chance fancy. Whence a just rebuke
    From his companion; brother Naddo shook
    The solemnest of brows; "Beware," he said,
    "Of setting up conceits in nature's stead!"
    Forth wandered our Sordello. Naught so sure
    As that to-day's adventure will secure
    Palma, the visioned lady--only pass
    O'er yon damp mound and its exhausted grass,
    Under that brake where sundawn feeds the stalks
    Of withered fern with gold, into those walks
    Of pine and take her! Buoyantly he went.
    Again his stooping forehead was besprent
    With dew-drops from the skirting ferns. Then wide
    Opened the great morass, shot every side
    With flashing water through and through; a-shine,
    Thick steaming, all alive. Whose shape divine,
    Quivered i' the farthest rainbow-vapor, glanced
    Athwart the flying herons? He advanced,
    But warily; though Mincio leaped no more,
    Each footfall burst up in the marish-floor
    A diamond jet: and if he stopped to pick
    Rose-lichen, or molest the leeches quick,
    And circling blood-worms, minnow, newt or loach,
    A sudden pond would silently encroach
    This way and that. On Palma passed. The verge
    Of a new wood was gained. She will emerge
    Flushed, now, and panting,--crowds to see,--will own
    She loves him--Boniface to hear, to groan,
    To leave his suit! One screen of pine-trees still
    Opposes: but--the startling spectacle--
    Mantua, this time! Under the walls--a crowd
    Indeed, real men and women, gay and loud
    Round a pavilion. How he stood!
                                    In truth
            [Sidenote: When greatest and brightest, bursts.]
    No prophecy had come to pass: his youth
    In its prime now--and where was homage poured
    Upon Sordello?--born to be adored,
    And suddenly discovered weak, scarce made
    To cope with any, cast into the shade
    By this and this. Yet something seemed to prick
    And tingle in his blood; a sleight--a trick--
    And much would be explained. It went for naught--
    The best of their endowments were ill bought
    With his identity: nay, the conceit,
    That this day's roving led to Palma's feet
    Was not so vain--list! The word, "Palma!" Steal
    Aside, and die, Sordello; this is real,
    And this--abjure!
                      What next? The curtains see
    Dividing! She is there; and presently
    He will be there--the proper You, at length--
    In your own cherished dress of grace and strength:
    Most like, the very Boniface!
                                  Not so.
    It was a showy man advanced; but though
    A glad cry welcomed him, then every sound
    Sank and the crowd disposed themselves around,
    --"This is not he," Sordello felt; while, "Place
    For the best Troubadour of Boniface!"
    Hollaed the Jongleurs,--"Eglamor, whose lay
    Concludes his patron's Court of Love to-day!"
    Obsequious Naddo strung the master's lute
    With the new lute-string, "Elys," named to suit
            [Sidenote: At a Court of Love a minstrel sings.]
    The song: he stealthily at watch, the while,
    Biting his lip to keep down a great smile
    Of pride: then up he struck. Sordello's brain
    Swam; for he knew a sometime deed again;
    So, could supply each foolish gap and chasm
    The minstrel left in his enthusiasm,
    Mistaking its true version--was the tale
    Not of Apollo? Only, what avail
    Luring her down, that Elys an he pleased,
    If the man dared no further? Has he ceased?
    And, lo, the people's frank applause half done,
    Sordello was beside him, had begun
    (Spite of indignant twitchings from his friend
    The Trouvere) the true lay with the true end,
    Taking the other's names and time and place
    For his. On flew the song, a giddy race,
            [Sidenote: Sordello, before Palma, conquers him,]
    After the flying story; word made leap
    Out word, rhyme--rhyme; the lay could barely keep
    Pace with the action visibly rushing past:
    Both ended. Back fell Naddo more aghast
    Than some Egyptian from the harassed bull
    That wheeled abrupt and, bellowing, fronted full
    His plague, who spied a scarab 'neath the tongue,
    And found 't was Apis' flank his hasty prong
    Insulted. But the people--but the cries,
    The crowding round, and proffering the prize!
    --For he had gained some prize. He seemed to shrink
    Into a sleepy cloud, just at whose brink
    One sight withheld him. There sat Adelaide,
    Silent; but at her knees the very maid
    Of the North Chamber, her red lips as rich,
    The same pure fleecy hair; one weft of which,
    Golden and great, quite touched his cheek as o'er
    She leant, speaking some six words and no more.
    He answered something, anything; and she
    Unbound a scarf and laid it heavily
    Upon him, her neck's warmth and all. Again
    Moved the arrested magic; in his brain
    Noises grew, and a light that turned to glare,
    And greater glare, until the intense flare
    Engulfed him, shut the whole scene from his sense.
    And when he woke 't was many a furlong thence,
    At home; the sun shining his ruddy wont;
    The customary birds'-chirp; but his front
            [Sidenote: Receives the prize, and ruminates.]
    Was crowned--was crowned! Her scented scarf around
    His neck! Whose gorgeous vesture heaps the ground?
    A prize? He turned, and peeringly on him
    Brooded the women-faces, kind and dim,
    Ready to talk--"The Jongleurs in a troop
    Had brought him back, Naddo and Squarcialupe
    And Tagliafer; how strange! a childhood spent
    In taking, well for him, so brave a bent!
    Since Eglamor," they heard, "was dead with spite,
    And Palma chose him for her minstrel."
    Sordello rose--to think, now; hitherto
    He had perceived. Sure, a discovery grew
    Out of it all! Best live from first to last
    The transport o'er again. A week he passed,
    Sucking the sweet out of each circumstance,
    From the bard's outbreak to the luscious trance
    Bounding his own achievement. Strange! A man
    Recounted an adventure, but began
    Imperfectly; his own task was to fill
    The framework up, sing well what he sung ill,
    Supply the necessary points, set loose
    As many incidents of little use
    --More imbecile the other, not to see
    Their relative importance clear as he!
    But, for a special pleasure in the act
    Of singing--had he ever turned, in fact,
    From Elys, to sing Elys?--from each fit
    Of rapture to contrive a song of it?
    True, this snatch or the other seemed to wind
    Into a treasure, helped himself to find
    A beauty in himself; for, see, he soared
    By means of that mere snatch, to many a hoard
    Of fancies; as some falling cone hears soft
    The eye along the fir-tree spire, aloft
    To a dove's nest. Then, how divine the cause
    Why such performance should exact applause
    From men, if they had fancies too? Did fate
    Decree they found a beauty separate
    In the poor snatch itself?--"Take Elys, there,
    --'Her head that's sharp and perfect like a pear,
    So close and smooth are laid the few fine locks
    Colored like honey oozed from topmost rocks
    Sun-blanched the livelong summer'--if they heard
    Just those two rhymes, assented at my word,
    And loved them as I love them who have run
    These fingers through those pale locks, let the sun
    Into the white cool skin--who first could clutch,
    Then praise--I needs must be a god to such.
    Or what if some, above themselves, and yet
            [Sidenote: How had he been superior to Eglamor?]
    Beneath me, like their Eglamor, have set
    An impress on our gift? So, men believe
    And worship what they know not, nor receive
    Delight from. Have they fancies--slow, perchance,
    Not at their beck, which indistinctly glance
    Until, by song, each floating part be linked
    To each, and all grow palpable, distinct?"
    He pondered this.
                      Meanwhile, sounds low and drear
    Stole on him, and a noise of footsteps, near
    And nearer, while the underwood was pushed
    Aside, the larches grazed, the dead leaves crushed
    At the approach of men. The wind seemed laid;
    Only, the trees shrunk slightly and a shade
    Came o'er the sky although 't was mid-day yet:
    You saw each half-shut downcast floweret
    Flutter--"a Roman bride, when they 'd dispart
    Her unbound tresses with the Sabine dart,
    Holding that famous rape in memory still,
    Felt creep into her curls the iron chill,
    And looked thus," Eglamor would say--indeed
            [Sidenote: This is answered by Eglamor himself:]
    'T is Eglamor, no other, these precede
    Home hither in the woods. "'T were surely sweet
    Far from the scene of one's forlorn defeat
    To sleep!" judged Naddo, who in person led
    Jongleurs and Trouveres, chanting at their head,
    A scanty company; for, sooth to say,
    Our beaten Troubadour had seen his day.
    Old worshippers were something shamed, old friends
    Nigh weary; still the death proposed amends.
    "Let us but get them safely through my song
    And home again!" quoth Naddo.
                                  All along,
    This man (they rest the bier upon the sand)
    --This calm corpse with the loose flowers in his hand,
    Eglamor, lived Sordello's opposite.
    For him indeed was Naddo's notion right,
    And verse a temple-worship vague and vast,
    A ceremony that withdrew the last
    Opposing bolt, looped back the lingering veil
    Which hid the holy place: should one so frail
    Stand there without such effort? or repine
    If much was blank, uncertain at the shrine
    He knelt before, till, soothed by many a rite,
    The power responded, and some sound or sight
    Grew up, his own forever, to be fixed,
    In rhyme, the beautiful, forever!--mixed
    With his own life, unloosed when he should please,
            [Sidenote: One who belonged to what he loved,]
    Having it safe at hand, ready to ease
    All pain, remove all trouble; every time
    He loosed that fancy from its bonds of rhyme,
    (Like Perseus when he loosed his naked love)
    Faltering; so distinct and far above
    Himself, these fancies! He, no genius rare,
    Transfiguring in fire or wave or air
    At will, but a poor gnome that, cloistered up
    In some rock-chamber with his agate cup,
    His topaz rod, his seed-pearl, in these few
    And their arrangement finds enough to do
    For his best art. Then, how he loved that art!
    The calling marking him a man apart
    From men--one not to care, take counsel for
    Cold hearts, comfortless faces--(Eglamor
    Was neediest of his tribe)--since verse, the gift,
    Was his, and men, the whole of them, must shift
    Without it, e'en content themselves with wealth
    And pomp and power, snatching a life by stealth.
    So, Eglamor was not without his pride!
            [Sidenote: Loving his art and rewarded by it,]
    The sorriest bat which cowers throughout noontide
    While other birds are jocund, has one time
    When moon and stars are blinded, and the prime
    Of earth is his to claim, nor find a peer;
    And Eglamor was noblest poet here--
    He well knew, 'mid those April woods, he cast
    Conceits upon in plenty as he passed,
    That Naddo might suppose him not to think
    Entirely on the coming triumph: wink
    At the one weakness! 'Twas a fervid child,
    That song of his; no brother of the guild
    Had e'er conceived its like. The rest you know,
    The exaltation and the overthrow:
    Our poet lost his purpose, lost his rank,
    His life--to that it came. Yet envy sank
    Within him, as he heard Sordello out,
    And, for the first time, shouted--tried to shout
    Like others, not from any zeal to show
    Pleasure that way: the common sort did so.
    What else was Eglamor? who, bending down
    As they, placed his beneath Sordello's crown,
    Printed a kiss on his successor's hand,
    Left one great tear on it, then joined his band
    --In time; for some were watching at the door:
    Who knows what envy may effect? "Give o'er,
    Nor charm his lips, nor craze him!" (here one spied
    And disengaged the withered crown)--"Beside
    His crown? How prompt and clear those verses rang
    To answer yours! nay, sing them!" And he sang
    Them calmly. Home he went; friends used to wait
    His coming, zealous to congratulate;
    But, to a man,--so quickly runs report,--
    Could do no less than leave him, and escort
    His rival. That eve, then, bred many a thought:
    What must his future life be? was he brought
    So low, who stood so lofty this Spring morn?
    At length he said, "Best sleep now with my scorn,
    And by to-morrow I devise some plain
    Expedient!" So, he slept, nor woke again.
            [Sidenote: Ending with what had possessed him.]
    They found as much, those friends, when they returned
    O'erflowing with the marvels they had learned
    About Sordello's paradise, his roves
    Among the hills and vales and plains and groves,
    Wherein, no doubt, this lay was roughly cast,
    Polished by slow degrees, completed last
    To Eglamor's discomfiture and death.
      Such form the chanters now, and, out of breath,
    They lay the beaten man in his abode,
    Naddo reciting that same luckless ode,
    Doleful to hear. Sordello could explore
    By means of it, however, one step more
    In joy; and, mastering the round at length,
    Learnt how to live in weakness as in strength,
    When from his covert forth he stood, addressed
    Eglamor, bade the tender ferns invest,
    Primæval pines o'ercanopy his couch,
    And, most of all, his fame--(shall I avouch
    Eglamor heard it, dead though he might look,
    And laughed as from his brow Sordello took
    The crown, and laid on the bard's breast, and said
    It was a crown, now, fit for poet's head?)
    --Continue. Nor the prayer quite fruitless fell,
    A plant they have, yielding a three-leaved bell
    Which whitens at the heart ere noon, and ails
    Till evening; evening gives it to her gales
    To clear away with such forgotten things
    As are an eyesore to the morn: this brings
    Him to their mind, and hears his very name.
            [Sidenote: Eglamor done with, Sordello begins.]
    So much for Eglamor. My own month came;
    'Twas a sunrise of blossoming and May.
    Beneath a flowering laurel thicket lay
    Sordello; each new sprinkle of white stars
    That smell fainter of wine than Massic jars
    Dug up at Baiæ, when the south wind shed
    The ripest, made him happier; filleted
    And robed the same, only a lute beside
    Lay on the turf. Before him far and wide
    The country stretched: Goito slept behind
    --The castle and its covert, which confined
    Him with his hopes and fears; so fain of old
    To leave the story of his birth untold.
    At intervals, 'spite the fantastic glow
    Of his Apollo-life, a certain low
    And wretched whisper, winding through the bliss,
    Admonished, no such fortune could be his,
    All was quite false and sure to fade one day:
    The closelier drew he round him his array
    Of brilliance to expel the truth. But when
    A reason for his difference from men
    Surprised him at the grave, he took no rest
    While aught of that old life, superbly dressed
    Down to its meanest incident, remained
    A mystery: alas, they soon explained
    Away Apollo! and the tale amounts
    To this: when at Vicenza both her counts
            [Sidenote: Who he really was, and why at Goito.]
    Banished the Vivaresi kith and kin,
    Those Maltraversi hung on Ecelin,
    Reviled him as he followed; he for spite
    Must fire their quarter, though that self-same night
    Among the flames young Ecelin was born
    Of Adelaide, there too, and barely torn
    From the roused populace hard on the rear,
    By a poor archer when his chieftain's fear
    Grew high; into the thick Elcorte leapt,
    Saved her, and died; no creature left except
    His child to thank. And when the full escape
    Was known--how men impaled from chine to nape
    Unlucky Prata, all to pieces spurned
    Bishop Pistore's concubines, and burned
    Taurello's entire household, flesh and fell,
    Missing the sweeter prey--such courage well
    Might claim reward. The orphan, ever since,
    Sordello, had been nurtured by his prince
    Within a blind retreat where Adelaide--
    (For, once this notable discovery made,
    The past at every point was understood)
    --Might harbor easily when times were rude,
    When Azzo schemed for Palma, to retrieve
    That pledge of Agnes Este--loth to leave
    Mantua unguarded with a vigilant eye,
    While there Taurello bode ambiguously--
    He who could have no motive now to moil
    For his own fortunes since their utter spoil--
    As it were worth while yet (went the report)
    To disengage himself from her. In short,
    Apollo vanished; a mean youth, just named
    His lady's minstrel, was to be proclaimed
    --How shall I phrase it?--Monarch of the World!
            [Sidenote: He, so little, would fain be so much:]
    For, on the day when that array was furled
    Forever, and in place of one a slave
    To longings, wild indeed, but longings save
    In dreams as wild, suppressed--one daring not
    Assume the mastery such dreams allot,
    Until a magical equipment, strength,
    Grace, wisdom, decked him too,--he chose at length,
    Content with unproved wits and failing frame,
    In virtue of his simple will, to claim
    That mastery, no less--to do his best
    With means so limited, and let the rest
    Go by,--the seal was set: never again
    Sordello could in his own sight remain
            [Sidenote: Leaves the dream he may be something,]
    One of the many, one with hopes and cares
    And interests nowise distinct from theirs,
    Only peculiar in a thriveless store
    Of fancies, which were fancies and no more;
    Never again for him and for the crowd
    A common law was challenged and allowed
    If calmly reasoned of, howe'er denied
    By a mad impulse nothing justified
    Short of Apollo's presence. The divorce
    Is clear: why needs Sordello square his course
    By any known example? Men no more
    Compete with him than tree and flower before.
    Himself, inactive, yet is greater far
    Than such as act, each stooping to his star,
    Acquiring thence his function; he has gained
    The same result with meaner mortals trained
    To strength or beauty, moulded to express
    Each the idea that rules him; since no less
    He comprehends that function, but can still
    Embrace the others, take of might his fill
    With Richard as of grace with Palma, mix
    Their qualities, or for a moment fix
    On one; abiding free meantime, uncramped
    By any partial organ, never stamped
    Strong, and to strength turning all energies--
    Wise, and restricted to becoming wise--
    That is, he loves not, nor possesses One
    Idea that, star-like over, lures him on
    To its exclusive purpose. "Fortunate!
    This flesh of mine ne'er strove to emulate
    A soul so various--took no casual mould
    Of the first fancy and, contracted, cold,
    Clogged her forever--soul averse to change
    As flesh: whereas flesh leaves soul free to range,
    Remains itself a blank, east into shade,
    Encumbers little, if it cannot aid.
            [Sidenote: For the fact that he can do nothing,]
    So, range, free soul!--who, by self-consciousness,
    The last drop of all beauty dost express--
    The grace of seeing grace, a quintessence
    For thee: while for the world, that can dispense
    Wonder on men who, themselves, wonder--make
    A shift to love at second-hand, and take
    For idols those who do but idolize,
    Themselves,--the world that counts men strong or wise,
    Who, themselves, court strength, wisdom,--it shall bow
    Surely in unexampled worship now,
    Discerning me!"--
                      (Dear monarch, I beseech,
    Notice how lamentably wide a breach
    Is here: discovering this, discover too
    What our poor world has possibly to do
    With it! As pigmy natures as you please--
    So much the better for you; take your ease,
    Look on, and laugh; style yourself God alone;
    Strangle some day with a cross olive-stone!
    All that is right enough: but why want us
    To know that you yourself know thus and thus?)
    "The world shall bow to me conceiving all
    Man's life, who see its blisses, great and small,
    Afar--not tasting any; no machine
    To exercise my utmost will is mine:
    Be mine mere consciousness! Let men perceive
    What I could do, a mastery believe,
    Asserted and established to the throng
    By their selected evidence of song
    Which now shall prove, whate'er they are, or seek
    To be, I am--whose words, not actions speak,
    Who change no standards of perfection, vex
    With no strange forms created to perplex,
    But just perform their bidding and no more,
    At their own satiating-point give o'er,
    While each shall love in me the love that leads
    His soul to power's perfection." Song, not deeds,
    (For we get tired) was chosen. Fate would brook
    Mankind no other organ; he would look
    For not another channel to dispense
    His own volition by, receive men's sense
    Of its supremacy--would live content,
    Obstructed else, with merely verse for vent.
            [Sidenote: Yet is able to imagine everything,]
    Nor should, for instance, strength an outlet seek
    And, striving, be admired; nor grace bespeak
    Wonder, displayed in gracious attitudes;
    Nor wisdom, poured forth, change unseemly moods:
    But he would give and take on song's one point.
    Like some huge throbbing stone that, poised a-joint,
    Sounds, to affect on its basaltic bed,
    Must sue in just one accent; tempests shed
    Thunder, and raves the windstorm: only let
    That key by any little noise be set--
    The far benighted hunter's halloo pitch
    On that, the hungry curlew chance to scritch
    Or serpent hiss it, rustling through the rift,
    However loud, however low--all lift
    The groaning monster, stricken to the heart.
      Lo ye, the world's concernment, for its part,
            [Sidenote: If the world esteem this equivalent.]
    And this, for his, will hardly interfere!
    Its businesses in blood and blaze this year
    But while the hour away--a pastime slight
    Till he shall step upon the platform: right!
    And, now thus much is settled, cast in rough,
    Proved feasible, be counselled! thought enough,--
    Slumber, Sordello! any day will serve:
    Were it a less digested plan! how swerve
    To-morrow? Meanwhile eat these sun-dried grapes,
    And watch the soaring hawk there! Life escapes
    Merrily thus.
                  He thoroughly read o'er
    His truchman Naddo's missive six times more,
    Praying him visit Mantua and supply
    A famished world.
                      The evening star was high
    When he reached Mantua, but his fame arrived
    Before him: friends applauded, foes connived,
    And Naddo looked an angel, and the rest
    Angels, and all these angels would he blest
    Supremely by a song--the thrice-renowned
    Goito-manufacture. Then he found
    (Casting about to satisfy the crowd)
            [Sidenote: He has loved song's results, not song;]
    That happy vehicle, so late allowed,
    A sore annoyance; 't was the song's effect
    He cared for, scarce the song itself: reflect!
    In the past life, what might be singing's use?
    Just to delight his Delians, whose profuse
    Praise, not the toilsome process which procured
    That praise, enticed Apollo: dreams abjured,
    No overleaping means for ends--take both
    For granted or take neither! I am loth
    To say the rhymes at last were Eglamor's;
    But Naddo, chuckling, bade competitors
    Go pine; "the master certes meant to waste
    No effort, cautiously had probed the taste
    He 'd please anon: true bard, in short, disturb
    His title if they could; nor spur nor curb,
    Fancy nor reason, wanting in him; whence
    The staple of his verses, common sense:
    He built on man's broad nature--gift of gifts,
    That power to build! The world contented shifts
    With counterfeits enough, a dreary sort
    Of warriors, statesmen, ere it can extort
    Its poet-soul--that 's, after all, a freak
    (The having eyes to see and tongue to speak)
    With our herd's stupid sterling happiness
    So plainly incompatible that--yes--
    Yes--should a son of his improve the breed
    And turn out poet, he were cursed indeed!"
    "Well, there 's Goito and its woods anon,
    If the worst happen; best go stoutly on
    Now!" thought Sordello.
            [Sidenote: So, must effect this to obtain those.]
                            Ay, and goes on yet!
    You pother with your glossaries to get
    A notion of the Troubadour's intent
    In rondel, tenzon, virlai, or sirvent--
    Much as you study arras how to twirl
    His angelot, plaything of page and girl
    Once; but you surely reach, at last,--or, no!
    Never quite reach what struck the people so,
    As from the welter of their time he drew
    Its elements successively to view,
    Followed all actions backward on their course,
    And catching up, unmingled at the source,
    Such a strength, such a weakness, added then
    A touch or two, and turned them into men.
    Virtue took form, nor vice refused a shape;
    Here heaven opened, there was hell agape,
    As Saint this simpered past in sanctity,
    Sinner the other flared portentous by
    A greedy people. Then why stop, surprised
    At his success? The scheme was realized
    Too suddenly in one respect: a crowd
    Praising, eyes quick to see, and lips as loud
    To speak, delicious homage to receive,
    The woman's breath to feel upon his sleeve,
    Who said, "But Anafest--why asks he less
    Than Lucio, in your verses? how confess,
    It seemed too much but yestereve!"--the youth,
    Who bade him earnestly, "Avow the truth!
    You love Bianca, surely, from your song;
    I knew I was unworthy!"--soft or strong,
    In poured such tributes ere he had arranged
    Ethereal ways to take them, sorted, changed,
    Digested. Courted thus at unawares,
    In spite of his pretensions and his cares,
    He caught himself shamefully hankering
    After the obvious petty joys that spring
    From true life, fain relinquish pedestal
            [Sidenote: He succeeds a little, but fails more;]
    And condescend with pleasures--one and all
    To be renounced, no doubt; for, thus to chain
    Himself to single joys and so refrain
    From tasting their quintessence, frustrates, sure,
    His prime design; each joy must he abjure
    Even for love of it.
                         He laughed: what sage
    But perishes if from his magic page
    He look because, at the first line, a proof
    'T was heard salutes him from the cavern roof?
    "On! Give yourself, excluding aught beside,
    To the day's task; compel your slave provide
    Its utmost at the soonest; turn the leaf
    Thoroughly conned. These lays of yours, in brief--
    Cannot men hear, now, something better?--fly
    A pitch beyond this unreal pageantry
    Of essences? the period sure has ceased
    For such: present us with ourselves, at least,
    Not portions of ourselves, mere loves and hates
    Made flesh: wait not!"
            [Sidenote: Tries again, is no better satisfied,]
                           Awhile the poet waits
    However. The first trial was enough:
    He left imagining, to try the stuff
    That held the imaged thing, and, let it writhe
    Never so fiercely, scarce allowed a tithe
    To reach the light--his Language. How he sought
    The cause, conceived a cure, and slow re-wrought
    That Language,--welding words into the crude
    Mass from the new speech round him, till a rude
    Armor was hammered out, in time to be
    Approved beyond the Roman panoply
    Melted to make it,--boots not. This obtained
    With some ado, no obstacle remained
    To using it; accordingly he took
    An action with its actors, quite forsook
    Himself to live in each, returned anon
    With the result--a creature, and, by one
    And one, proceeded leisurely to equip
    Its limbs in harness of his workmanship.
    "Accomplished! Listen, Mantuans!" Fond essay!
    Piece after piece that armor broke away,
    Because perceptions whole, like that he sought
    To clothe, reject so pure a work of thought
    As language: thought may take perception's place
    But hardly co-exist in any case,
    Being its mere presentment--of the whole
    By parts, the simultaneous and the sole
    By the successive and the many. Lacks
    The crowd perception? painfully it tacks
    Thought to thought, which Sordello, needing such,
    Has rent perception into: it 's to clutch
    And reconstruct--his office to diffuse,
    Destroy: as hard, then, to obtain a Muse
    As to become Apollo. "For the rest,
    E'en if some wondrous vehicle expressed
    The whole dream, what impertinence in me
    So to express it, who myself can be
    The dream! nor, on the other hand, are those
    I sing to, over-likely to suppose
            [Sidenote: And declines from the ideal of song.]
    A higher than the highest I present
    Now, which they praise already: be content
    Both parties, rather--they with the old verse,
    And I with the old praise--far go, fare worse!"
    A few adhering rivets loosed, upsprings
    The angel, sparkles off his mail, which rings
    Whirled from each delicatest limb it warps,
    So might Apollo from the sudden corpse
    Of Hyacinth have cast his luckless quoits.
    He set to celebrating the exploits
    Of Montfort o'er the Mountaineers.
                                       Then came
    The world's revenge: their pleasure, now his aim
    Merely,--what was it? "Not to play the fool
    So much as learn our lesson in your school!"
    Replied the world. He found that, every time
    He gained applause by any ballad-rhyme,
    His auditory recognized no jot
    As he intended, and, mistaking not
    Him for his meanest hero, ne'er was dunce
    Sufficient to believe him--all, at once.
    His will ... conceive it caring for his will!
    --Mantuans, the main of them, admiring still
    How a mere singer, ugly, stunted, weak,
    Had Montfort at completely (so to speak)
    His fingers' ends; while past the praise-tide swept
    To Montfort, either's share distinctly kept:
    The true meed for true merit!--his abates
            [Sidenote: What is the world's recognition worth?]
    Into a sort he most repudiates,
    And on them angrily he turns. Who were
    The Mantuans, after all, that he should care
    About their recognition, ay or no?
    In spite of the convention months ago,
    (Why blink the truth?) was not he forced to help
    This same ungrateful audience, every whelp
    Of Naddo's litter, make them pass for peers
    With the bright band of old Goito years,
    As erst he toiled for flower or tree? Why, there
    Sat Palma! Adelaide's funereal hair
    Ennobled the next corner. Ay, he strewed
    A fairy dust upon that multitude,
    Although he feigned to take them by themselves;
    His giants dignified those puny elves,
    Sublime their faint applause. In short, he found
    Himself still footing a delusive round,
    Remote as ever from the self-display
    He meant to compass, hampered every way
    By what he hoped assistance. Wherefore then
    Continue, make believe to find in men
    A use he found not?
                        Weeks, months, years went by,
    And lo, Sordello vanished utterly,
    Sundered in twain; each spectral part at strife
    With each; one jarred against another life;
            [Sidenote: How, poet no longer in unity with man,]
    The Poet thwarting hopelessly the Man,
    Who, fooled no longer, free in fancy ran
    Here, there,--let slip no opportunities
    As pitiful, forsooth, beside the prize
    To drop on him some no-time and acquit
    His constant faith (the Poet-half's to wit--
    That waiving any compromise between
    No joy and all joy kept the hunger keen
    Beyond most methods)--of incurring scoff
    From the Man-portion--not to be put off
    With self-reflectings by the Poet's scheme,
    Though ne'er so bright. Who sauntered forth in dream,
    Dressed anyhow, nor waited mystic frames,
    Immeasurable gifts, astounding claims,
    But just his sorry self?--who yet might be
    Sorrier for aught he in reality
    Achieved, so pinioned Man 's the Poet-part,
    Fondling, in turn of fancy, verse; the Art
    Developing his soul a thousand ways--
    Potent, by its assistance, to amaze
    The multitude with majesties, convince
    Each sort of nature, that the nature's prince
    Accosted it. Language, the makeshift, grew
    Into a bravest of expedients, too;
    Apollo, seemed it now, perverse had thrown
    Quiver and bow away, the lyre alone
    Sufficed. While, out of dream, his day's work went
    To tune a crazy tenzon or sirvent--
    So hampered him the Man-part, thrust to judge
    Between the bard and the bard's audience, grudge
    A minute's toil that missed its due reward!
    But the complete Sordello, Man and Bard,
            [Sidenote: The whole visible Sordello goes wrong]
    John's cloud-girt angel, this foot on the land,
    That on the sea, with, open in his hand,
    A bitter-sweetling of a book--was gone.
      Then, if internal straggles to be one
    Which frittered him incessantly piecemeal,
    Referred, ne'er so obliquely, to the real
    Intruding Mantuans! ever with some call
    To action while he pondered, once for all,
    Which looked the easier effort--to pursue
    This course, still leap o'er paltry joys, yearn through
    The present ill-appreciated stage
    Of self-revealment, and compel the age
    Know him; or else, forswearing bard-craft, wake
    From out his lethargy and nobly shake
    Off timid habits of denial, mix
    With men, enjoy like men. Ere he could fix
    On aught, in rushed the Mantuans; much they cared
    For his perplexity! Thus unprepared,
    The obvious if not only shelter lay
            [Sidenote: With those too hard for half of him,]
    In deeds, the dull conventions of his day
    Prescribed the like of him: why not be glad
    'T is settled Palma's minstrel, good or bad,
    Submits to this and that established rule?
    Let Vidal change, or any other fool,
    His murrey-colored robe for filamot,
    And crop his hair; too skin-deep, is it not,
    Such vigor? Then, a sorrow to the heart,
    His talk! Whatever topics they might start
    Had to be groped for in his consciousness
    Straight, and as straight delivered them by guess.
    Only obliged to ask himself, "What was,"
    A speedy answer followed; but, alas,
    One of God's large ones, tardy to condense
    Itself into a period; answers whence
    A tangle of conclusions must be stripped
    At any risk ere, trim to pattern clipped,
    They matched rare specimens the Mantuan flock
    Regaled him with, each talker from his stock
    Of sorted-o'er opinions, every stage,
    Juicy in youth or desiccate with age,
    Fruits like the fig-tree's, rathe-ripe, rotten-rich,
    Sweet-sour, all tastes to take: a practice which
    He too had not impossibly attained,
    Once either of those fancy-flights restrained;
    (For, at conjecture how might words appear
    To others, playing there what happened here,
    And occupied abroad by what he spurned
    At home, 't was slipped, the occasion he returned
    To seize:) he 'd strike that lyre adroitly--speech,
    Would but a twenty-cubit plectre reach;
    A clever hand, consummate instrument,
    Were both brought close; each excellency went
    For nothing, else. The question Naddo asked,
    Had just a lifetime moderately tasked
    To answer, Naddo's fashion. More disgust
            [Sidenote: Of whom he is also too contemptuous.]
    And more: why move his soul, since move it must
    At minute's notice or as good it failed
    To move at all? The end was, he retailed
    Some ready-made opinion, put to use
    This quip, that maxim, ventured reproduce
    Gestures and tones--at any folly caught
    Serving to finish with, nor too much sought
    If false or true 't was spoken; praise and blame
    Of what he said grew pretty nigh the same
    --Meantime awards to meantime acts: his soul,
    Unequal to the compassing a whole,
    Saw, in a tenth part, less and less to strive
    About. And as for men in turn ... contrive
    Who could to take eternal interest
    In them, so hate the worst, so love the best!
    Though, in pursuance of his passive plan,
    He hailed, decried, the proper way.
                                        As Man
    So figured he; and how as Poet? Verse
    Came only not to a stand-still. The worse,
    That his poor piece of daily work to do
    Was, not sink under any rivals; who
            [Sidenote: He pleases neither himself nor them:]
    Loudly and long enough, without these qualms,
    Turned, from Bocafoli's stark-naked psalms,
    To Plara's sonnets spoilt by toying with,
    "As knops that stud some almug to the pith
    Prickèd for gum, wry thence, and crinklèd worse
    Than pursèd eyelids of a river-horse
    Sunning himself o' the slime when whirrs the breeze"--
    _Gad-fly_, that is. He might compete with these!
                "Observe a pompion-twine afloat;
    Pluck me one cup from off the castle-moat!
            [Sidenote: Which the best judges account for.]
    Along with cup you raise leaf, stalk and root,
    The entire surface of the pool to boot.
    So could I pluck a cup, put in one song
    A single sight, did not my hand, too strong,
    Twitch in the least the root-strings of the whole.
    How should externals satisfy my soul?"
    "Why that 's precise the error Squarcialupe"
    (Hazarded Naddo) "finds; 'the man can't stoop
    To sing us out,' quoth he, 'a mere romance;
    He 'd fain do better than the best, enhance
    The subjects' rarity, work problems out
    Therewith.' Now, you 're a bard, a bard past doubt,
    And no philosopher; why introduce
    Crotchets like these? fine, surely, but no use
    In poetry--which still must be, to strike,
    Based upon common sense; there 's nothing like
    Appealing to our nature! what beside
    Was your first poetry? No tricks were tried
    In that, no hollow thrills, affected throes!
    'The man,' said we, 'tells his own joys and woes:
    We 'll trust him.' Would you have your songs endure?
    Build on the human heart!--why, to be sure
    Yours is one sort of heart--but I mean theirs,
    Ours, every one's, the healthy heart one cares
    To build on! Central peace, mother of strength,
    That 's father of ... nay, go yourself that length,
    Ask those calm-hearted doers what they do
    When they have got their calm! And is it true,
    Fire rankles at the heart of every globe?
    Perhaps. But these are matters one may probe
    Too deeply for poetic purposes:
    Rather select a theory that ... yes,
    Laugh! what does that prove?--stations you midway
    And saves some little o'er-refining. Nay,
    That 's rank injustice done me! I restrict
    The poet? Don't I hold the poet picked
    Out of a host of warriors, statesmen ... did
    I tell you? Very like! As well you hid
    That sense of power, you have! True bards believe
    All able to achieve what they achieve--
    That is, just nothing--in one point abide
    Profounder simpletons than all beside.
    Oh, ay! The knowledge that you are a bard
    Must constitute your prime, nay sole, reward!"
    So prattled Naddo, busiest of the tribe
    Of genius-haunters--how shall I describe
    What grubs or nips or rubs or rips--your louse
    For love, your flea for hate, magnanimous,
            [Sidenote: Their criticisms give small comfort:]
    Malignant, Pappacoda, Tagliafer,
    Picking a sustenance from wear and tear
    By implements it sedulous employs
    To undertake, lay down, mete out, o'er-toise
    Sordello? Fifty creepers to elude
    At once! They settled stanchly: shame ensued:
    Behold the monarch of mankind succumb
    To the last fool who turned him round his thumb,
    As Naddo styled it! 'T was not worth oppose
    The matter of a moment, gainsay those
    He aimed at getting rid of; better think
    Their thoughts and speak their speech, secure to slink
    Back expeditiously to his safe place,
    And chew the cud--what he and what his race
    Were really, each of them. Yet even this
    Conformity was partial. He would miss
    Some point, brought into contact with them ere
    Assured in what small segment of the sphere
    Of his existence they attended him;
    Whence blunders, falsehoods rectified--a grim
    List--slur it over! How? If dreams were tried,
    His will swayed sicklily from side to side,
    Nor merely neutralized his waking act
    But tended e'en in fancy to distract
    The intermediate will, the choice of means.
    He lost the art of dreaming: Mantuan scenes
    Supplied a baron, say, he sang before,
    Handsomely reckless, full to running o'er
    Of gallantries; "abjure the soul, content
    With body, therefore!" Scarcely had he bent
    Himself in dream thus low, when matter fast
    Cried out, he found, for spirit to contrast
    And task it duly; by advances slight,
    The simple stuff becoming composite,
    Count Lori grew Apollo--best recall
    His fancy! Then would some rough peasant-Paul,
    Like those old Ecelin confers with, glance
    His gay apparel o'er; that countenance
    Gathered his shattered fancies into one,
    And, body clean abolished, soul alone
    Sufficed the gray Paulieian: by and by,
            [Sidenote: And his own degradation is complete.]
    To balance the ethereality,
    Passions were needed; foiled he sank again.
    Meanwhile the world rejoiced ('t is time explain)
    Because a sudden sickness set it free
    From Adelaide. Missing the mother-bee,
    Her mountain-hive Romano swarmed; at once
    A rustle-forth of daughters and of sons
    Blackened the valley. "I am sick too, old,
    Half-crazed I think; what good 's the Kaiser's gold
    To such an one? God help me! for I catch
    My children's greedy sparkling eyes at watch--
    'He bears that double breastplate on,' they say,
    'So many minutes less than yesterday!'
    Beside, Monk Hilary is on his knees
    Now, sworn to kneel and pray till God shall please
    Exact a punishment for many things
    You know, and some you never knew; which brings
    To memory, Azzo's sister Beatrix
    And Richard's Giglia are my Alberic's
    And Ecelin's betrothed; the Count himself
    Must get my Palma: Ghibellin and Guelf
    Mean to embrace each other." So began
            [Sidenote: Adelaide's death: what happens on it:]
    Romano's missive to his fighting man
    Taurello--on the Tuscan's death, away
    With Friedrich sworn to sail from Naples' bay
    Next month for Syria. Never thunder-clap
    Out of Vesuvius' throat, like this mishap
    Startled him. "That accursed Vicenza! I
    Absent, and she selects this time to die!
    Ho, fellows, for Vicenza!" Half a score
    Of horses ridden dead, he stood before
    Romano in his reeking spurs: too late--
    "Boniface urged me, Este could not wait,"
    The chieftain stammered; "let me die in peace--
    Forget me! Was it I who craved increase
    Of rule? Do you and Friedrich plot your worst
    Against the Father: as you found me first
    So leave me now. Forgive me! Palma, sure,
    Is at Goito still. Retain that lure--
    Only be pacified!"
                       The country rung
    With such a piece of news: on every tongue,
    How Ecelin's great servant, congeed off,
    Had done a long day's service, so, might doff
    The green and yellow, and recover breath
    At Mantua, whither,--since Retrude's death,
    (The girlish slip of a Sicilian bride
    From Otho's house, he carried to reside
    At Mantua till the Ferrarese should pile
    A structure worthy her imperial style,
    The gardens raise, the statues there enshrine,
    She never lived to see)--although his line
    Was ancient in her archives and she took
    A pride in him, that city, nor forsook
    Her child when he forsook himself and spent
    A prowess on Romano surely meant
    For his own growth--whither he ne'er resorts
    If wholly satisfied (to trust reports)
    With Ecelin. So, forward in a trice
    Were shows to greet him. "Take a friend's advice,"
    Quoth Naddo to Sordello, "nor be rash
    Because your rivals (nothing can abash
    Some folks) demur that we pronounced you best
    To sound the great man's welcome; 't is a test,
    Remember! Strojavacca looks asquint,
    The rough fat sloven; and there 's plenty hint
    Your pinions have received of late a shock--
    Outsoar them, cobswan of the silver flock!
            [Sidenote: And a trouble it occasions Sordello.]
    Sing well!" A signal wonder, song 's no whit
                 Fast the minutes flit;
    Another day, Sordello finds, will bring
    The soldier, and he cannot choose but sing;
    So, a last shift, quits Mantua--slow, alone:
    Out of that aching brain, a very stone,
    Song must be struck. What occupies that front?
    Just how he was more awkward than his wont
    The night before, when Naddo, who had seen
    Taurello on his progress, praised the mien
    For dignity no crosses could affect--
    Such was a joy, and might not he detect
    A satisfaction if established joys
    Were proved imposture? Poetry annoys
    Its utmost: wherefore fret? Verses may come
    Or keep away! And thus he wandered, dumb
    Till evening, when he paused, thoroughly spent,
    On a blind hill-top: down the gorge he went,
    Yielding himself up as to an embrace.
    The moon came out; like features of a face,
    A querulous fraternity of pines,
    Sad blackthorn clumps, leafless and grovelling vines
    Also came out, made gradually up
    The picture; 't was Goito's mountain-cup
    And castle. He had dropped through one defile
    He never dared explore, the Chief erewhile
            [Sidenote: He chances upon his old environment,]
    Had vanished by. Back rushed the dream, enwrapped
    Him wholly. 'T was Apollo now they lapped,
    Those mountains, not a pettish minstrel meant
    To wear his soul away in discontent,
    Brooding on fortune's malice. Heart and brain
    Swelled; he expanded to himself again,
    As some thin seedling spice-tree starved and frail,
    Pushing between cat's head and ibis' tail
    Crusted into the porphyry pavement smooth,
    --Suffered remain just as it sprung, to soothe
    The Soldan's pining daughter, never yet
    Well in her chilly green-glazed minaret,--
    When rooted up, the sunny day she died,
    And flung into the common court beside
    Its parent tree. Come home, Sordello! Soon
    Was he low muttering, beneath the moon,
    Of sorrow saved, of quiet evermore,--
    Since from the purpose, he maintained before,
    Only resulted wailing and hot tears.
            [Sidenote: Sees but failure in all done since,]
    Ah, the slim castle! dwindled of late years,
    But more mysterious; gone to ruin--trails
    Of vine through every loop-hole. Naught avails
    The night as, torch in hand, he must explore
    The maple chamber: did I say, its floor
    Was made of intersecting cedar beams?
    Worn now with gaps so large, there blew cold streams
    Of air quite from the dungeon; lay your ear
    Close and 't is like, one after one, you hear
    In the blind darkness water drop. The nests
    And nooks retain their long ranged vesture-chests
    Empty and smelling of the iris root
    The Tuscan grated o'er them to recruit
    Her wasted wits. Palma was gone that day,
    Said the remaining women. Last, he lay
    Beside the Carian group reserved and still.
    The Body, the Machine for Acting Will,
    Had been at the commencement proved unfit;
    That for Demonstrating, Reflecting it,
    Mankind--no fitter: was the Will Itself
    In fault?
              His forehead pressed the moonlit shelf
    Beside the youngest marble maid awhile;
    Then, raising it, he thought, with a long smile,
            [Sidenote: and resolves to desist from the like.]
    "I shall be king again!" as he withdrew
    The envied scarf; into the font he threw
    His crown.
               Next day, no poet! "Wherefore?" asked
    Taurello, when the dance of Jongleurs, masked
    As devils, ended; "don't a song come next?"
    The master of the pageant looked perplexed
    Till Naddo's whisper came to his relief.
    "His Highness knew what poets were: in brief,
    Had not the tetchy race prescriptive right
    To peevishness, caprice? or, call it spite,
    One must receive their nature in its length
    And breadth, expect the weakness with the strength!"
    --So phrasing, till, his stock of phrases spent,
    The easy-natured soldier smiled assent,
    Settled his portly person, smoothed his chin,
    And nodded that the bull-bait might begin.


    And the font took them: let our laurels lie!
    Braid moonfern now with mystic trifoly
    Because once more Goito gets, once more,
    Sordello to itself! A dream is o'er,
    And the suspended life begins anew;
    Quiet those throbbing temples, then, subdue
            [Sidenote: Nature may triumph therefore;]
    That cheek's distortion! Nature's strict embrace,
    Putting aside the past, shall soon efface
    Its print as well--factitious humors grown
    Over the true--loves, hatreds not his own--
    And turn him pure as some forgotten vest
    Woven of painted byssus, silkiest
    Tufting the Tyrrhene whelk's pearl-sheeted lip,
    Left welter where a trireme let it slip
    I' the sea, and vexed a satrap; so the stain
    O' the world forsakes Sordello, with its pain,
    Its pleasure: how the tinct loosening escapes,
    Cloud after cloud! Mantua's familiar shapes
    Die, fair and foul die, fading as they flit,
    Men, women, and the pathos and the wit,
    Wise speech and foolish, deeds to smile or sigh
    For, good, bad, seemly or ignoble, die.
    The last face glances through the eglantines,
    The last voice murmurs, 'twixt the blossomed vines,
    Of Men, of that machine supplied by thought
    To compass self-perception with, he sought
    By forcing half himself--an insane pulse
    Of a god's blood, on clay it could convulse,
    Never transmute--on human sights and sounds,
    To watch the other half with; irksome bounds
    It ebbs from to its source, a fountain sealed
    Forever. Better sure be unrevealed
    Than part revealed: Sordello well or ill
    Is finished: then what further use of Will,
    Point in the prime idea not realized,
    An oversight? inordinately prized,
    No less, and pampered with enough of each
    Delight to prove the whole above its reach.
    "To need become all natures, yet retain
    The law of my own nature--to remain
    Myself, yet yearn ... as if that chestnut, think,
    Should yearn for this first larch-bloom crisp and pink,
    Or those pale fragrant tears where zephyrs stanch
    March wounds along the fretted pine-tree branch!
    Will and the means to show will, great and small,
    Material, spiritual,--abjure them all
    Save any so distinct, they may be left
    To amuse, not tempt become! and, thus bereft,
    Just as I first was fashioned would I be!
    Nor, moon, is it Apollo now, but me
            [Sidenote: For her son, lately alive, dies again,]
    Thou visitest to comfort and befriend!
    Swim thou into my heart, and there an end,
    Since I possess thee!--nay, thus shut mine eyes
    And know, quite know, by this heart's fall and rise,
    When thou dost bury thee in clouds, and when
    Out-standest: wherefore practise upon men
    To make that plainer to myself?"
                                      Slide here
    Over a sweet and solitary year
    Wasted; or simply notice change in him--
    How eyes, once with exploring bright, grew dim
    And satiate with receiving. Some distress
    Was caused, too, by a sort of consciousness
    Under the imbecility,--naught kept
    That down; he slept, but was aware he slept,
    So, frustrated: as who brainsick made pact
    Erst with the overhanging cataract
    To deafen him, yet still distinguished plain
    His own blood's measured clicking at his brain.
    To finish. One declining Autumn day--
    Few birds about the heaven chill and gray,
    No wind that cared trouble the tacit woods--
    He sauntered home complacently, their moods
    According, his and nature's. Every spark
            [Sidenote: Was found and is lost.]
    Of Mantua life was trodden out; so dark
    The embers, that the Troubadour, who sung
    Hundreds of songs, forgot, its trick his tongue,
    Its craft his brain, how either brought to pass
    Singing at all; that faculty might class
    With any of Apollo's now. The year
    Began to find its early promise sere
    As well. Thus beauty vanishes; thus stone
    Outlingers flesh: nature's and his youth gone,
    They left the world to you, and wished you joy,
    When, stopping his benevolent employ,
    A presage shuddered through the welkin; harsh
    The earth's remonstrance followed. 'T was the marsh
    Gone of a sudden. Mincio, in its place,
    Laughed, a broad water, in next morning's face,
    And, where the mists broke up immense and white
    I' the steady wind, burned like a spilth of light
    Out of the crashing of a myriad stars.
    And here was nature, bound by the same bars
    Of fate with him!
            [Sidenote: But nature is one thing, man another--]
                      "No! youth once gone is gone:
    Deeds let escape are never to be done.
    Leaf-fall and grass-spring for the year; for us--
    Oh forfeit I unalterably thus
    My chance? nor two lives wait me, this to spend,
    Learning save that? Nature has time, may mend
    Mistake, she knows occasion will recur;
    Landslip or seabreach, how affects it her
    With her magnificent resources?--I
    Must perish once and perish utterly.
    Not any strollings now at even-close
    Down the field-path, Sordello! by thorn-rows
    Alive with lamp-flies, swimming spots of fire
    And dew, outlining the black cypress' spire
    She waits you at, Elys, who heard you first
    Woo her, the snow-month through, but ere she durst
    Answer 't was April. Linden-flower-time-long
    Her eyes were on the ground; 't is July, strong
    Now; and because white dust-clouds overwhelm
    The woodside, here or by the village elm
    That holds the moon, she meets you, somewhat pale,
    But letting you lift up her coarse flax veil
    And whisper (the damp little hand in yours)
    Of love, heart's love, your heart's love that endures
    Till death. Tush! No mad mixing with the rout
    Of haggard ribalds wandering about
    The hot torchlit wine-scented island-house
    Where Friedrich holds his wickedest carouse,
    Parading,--to the gay Palermitans,
    Soft Messinese, dusk Saracenic clans
            [Sidenote: Having multifarious sympathies,]
    Nuocera holds,--those tall grave dazzling Norse,
    High-cheeked, lank-haired, toothed whiter than the morse,
    Queens of the caves of jet stalactites,
    He sent his barks to fetch through icy seas,
    The blind night seas without a saving star,
    And here in snowy birdskin robes they are,
    Sordello!--here, mollitious alcoves gilt
    Superb as Byzant domes that devils built!
    --Ah, Byzant, there again! no chance to go
    Ever like august cheery Dandolo,
    Worshipping hearts about him for a wall,
    Conducted, blind eyes, hundred years and all,
    Through vanquished Byzant where friends note for him
    What pillar, marble massive, sardius slim,
    'T were fittest he transport to Venice' Square--
    Flattered and promised life to touch them there
    Soon, by those fervid sons of senators!
    No more lifes, deaths, loves, hatreds, peaces, wars!
    Ah, fragments of a whole ordained to be,
    Points in the life I waited! what are ye
    But roundels of a ladder which appeared
    Awhile the very platform it was reared
    To lift me on?--that happiness I find
    Proofs of my faith in, even in the blind
    Instinct which bade forego you all unless
    Ye led me past yourselves. Ay, happiness
            [Sidenote: He may neither renounce nor satisfy;]
    Awaited me; the way life should be used
    Was to acquire, and deeds like you conduced
    To teach it by a self-revealment, deemed
    Life's very use, so long! Whatever seemed
    Progress to that, was pleasure; aught that stayed
    My reaching it--no pleasure. I have laid
    The ladder down; I climb not; still, aloft
    The platform stretches! Blisses strong and soft,
    I dared not entertain, elude me; yet
    Never of what they promised could I get
    A glimpse till now! The common sort, the crowd,
    Exist, perceive; with Being are endowed,
    However slight, distinct from what they See,
    However bounded; Happiness must be,
    To feed the first by gleanings from the last,
    Attain its qualities, and slow or fast
    Become what they behold; such peace-in-strife
    By transmutation, is the Use of Life,
    The Alien turning Native to the soul
    Or body--which instructs me; I am whole
    There and demand a Palma; had the world
    Been from my soul to a like distance hurled,
    'T were Happiness to make it one with me:
    Whereas I must, ere I begin to Be,
    Include a world, in flesh, I comprehend
    In spirit now; and this done, what 's to blend
    With? Naught is Alien in the world--my Will
            [Sidenote: In the process to which is pleasure,]
    Owns all already; yet can turn it--still
    Less--Native, since my Means to correspond
    With Will are so unworthy, 't was my bond
    To tread the very joys that tantalize
    Most now, into a grave, never to rise.
    I die then! Will the rest agree to die?
    Next Age or no? Shall its Sordello try
    Clue after clue, and catch at last the clue
    I miss?--that 's underneath my finger too,
    Twice, thrice a day, perhaps,--some yearning traced
    Deeper, some petty consequence embraced
    Closer! Why fled I Mantua, then?--complained
    So much my Will was fettered, yet remained
    Content within a tether half the range
    I could assign it?--able to exchange
    My ignorance (I felt) for knowledge, and
    Idle because I could thus understand--
    Could e'en have penetrated to its core
    Our mortal mystery, yet--fool--forbore,
    Preferred elaborating in the dark
    My casual stuff, by any wretched spark
    Born of my predecessors, though one stroke
    Of mine had brought the flame forth! Mantua's yoke,
    My minstrel's-trade, was to behold mankind,--
    My own concern was just to bring my mind
    Behold, just extricate, for my acquist,
    Each object suffered stifle in the mist
    Which hazard, custom, blindness interpose
    Betwixt things and myself."
                                Whereat he rose.
    The level wind carried above the firs
    Clouds, the irrevocable travellers,
            "Pushed thus into a drowsy copse,
    Arms twine about my neck, each eyelid drops
    Under a humid finger; while there fleets,
    Outside the screen, a pageant time repeats
    Never again! To be deposed, immured
            [Sidenote: While renunciation ensures despair.]
    Clandestinely--still petted, still assured
    To govern were fatiguing work--the Sight
    Fleeting meanwhile! 'T is noontide: wreak ere night
    Somehow my will upon it, rather! Slake
    This thirst somehow, the poorest impress take
    That serves! A blasted bud displays you, torn,
    Faint rudiments of the full flower unborn;
    But who divines what glory coats o'erclasp
    Of the bulb dormant in the mummy's grasp
    Taurello sent?" ...
                        "Taurello? Palma sent
    Your Trouvere," (Naddo interposing leant
    Over the lost bard's shoulder)--"and, believe,
    You cannot more reluctantly receive
    Than I pronounce her message: we depart
    Together. What avail a poet's heart
    Verona's pomps and gauds? five blades of grass
    Suffice him. News? Why, where your marish was,
    On its mud-banks smoke rises after smoke
    I' the valley, like a spout of hell new-broke.
    Oh, the world's tidings! small your thanks, I guess,
    For them. The father of our Patroness
    Has played Taurello an astounding trick,
    Parts between Ecelin and Alberic
    His wealth and goes into a convent: both
    Wed Guelfs: the Count and Palma plighted troth
    A week since at Verona: and they want
    You doubtless to contrive the marriage-chant
    Ere Richard storms Ferrara." Then was told
    The tale from the beginning--how, made bold
    By Salinguerra's absence, Guelfs had burned
    And pillaged till he unawares returned
    To take revenge: how Azzo and his friend
    Were doing their endeavor, how the end
    O' the siege was nigh, and how the Count, released
    From further care, would with his marriage-feast
            [Sidenote: There is yet a way of escaping this;]
    Inaugurate a new and better rule,
    Absorbing thus Romano.
                           "Shall I school
    My master," added Naddo, "and suggest
    How you may clothe in a poetic vest
    These doings, at Verona? Your response
    To Palma! Wherefore jest? 'Depart at once?'
    A good resolve! In truth, I hardly hoped
    So prompt an acquiescence. Have you groped
    Out wisdom in the wilds here?--Thoughts may be
    Over-poetical for poetry.
    Pearl-white, you poets liken Palma's neck;
    And yet what spoils an orient like some speck
    Of genuine white, turning its own white gray?
    You take me? Curse the cicala!"
                                    One more day,
    One eve--appears Verona! Many a group,
    (You mind) instructed of the osprey's swoop
    On lynx and ounce, was gathering--Christendom
    Sure to receive, whate'er the end was, from
    The evening's purpose cheer or detriment,
    Since Friedrich only waited some event
    Like this, of Ghibellins establishing
    Themselves within Ferrara, ere, as King
    Of Lombardy, he 'd glad descend there, wage
    Old warfare with the Pontiff, disengage
    His barons from the burghers, and restore
    The rule of Charlemagne, broken of yore
    By Hildebrand.
            [Sidenote: Which he now takes by obeying Palma:]
                   I' the palace, each by each,
    Sordello sat and Palma: little speech
    At first in that dim closet, face with face
    (Despite the tumult in the market-place)
    Exchanging quick low laughters: now would rush
    Word upon word to meet a sudden flush,
    A look left off, a shifting lips' surmise--
    But for the most part their two histories
            [Sidenote: Who thereupon becomes his associate.]
    Ran best through the locked fingers and linked arms.
    And so the night flew on with its alarms
    Till in burst one of Palma's retinue;
    "Now, Lady!" gasped he. Then arose the two
    And leaned into Verona's air, dead-still.
    A balcony lay black beneath until
    Out, 'mid a gush of torchfire, gray-haired men
    Came on it and harangued the people: then
    Sea-like that people surging to and fro
    Shouted, "Hale forth the carroch--trumpets, ho,
    A flourish! Run it in the ancient grooves!
    Back from the bell! Hammer--that whom behooves
    May hear the League is up! Peal--learn who list,
    Verona means not first of towns break tryst
    To-morrow with the League!"
                                Enough. Now turn--
    Over the eastern cypresses: discern!
    Is any beacon set a-glimmer?
    The air with shouts that overpowered the clang
    Of the incessant carroch, even: "Haste--
    The candle 's at the gateway! ere it waste,
    Each soldier stand beside it, armed to march
    With Tiso Sampier through the eastern arch!"
    Ferrara 's succored, Palma!
                               Once again
    They sat together; some strange thing in train
    To say, so difficult was Palma's place
    In taking, with a coy fastidious grace
    Like the bird's flutter ere it fix and feed.
    But when she felt she held her friend indeed
    Safe, she threw back her curls, began implant
    Her lessons; telling of another want
            [Sidenote: As her own history will account for,]
    Goito's quiet nourished than his own;
    Palma--to serve him--to be served, alone
    Importing; Agnes' milk so neutralized
    The blood of Ecelin. Nor be surprised
    If, while Sordello fain had captive led
    Nature, in dream was Palma subjected
    To some out-soul, which dawned not though she pined
    Delaying till its advent, heart and mind,
    Their life. "How dared I let expand the force
    Within me, till some out-soul, whose resource
    It grew for, should direct it? Every law
    Of life, its every fitness, every flaw,
    Must One determine whose corporeal shape
    Would be no other than the prime escape
    And revelation to me of a Will
    Orb-like o'ershrouded and inscrutable
    Above, save at the point which, I should know,
    Shone that myself, my powers, might overflow
    So far, so much; as now it signified
    Which earthly shape it henceforth chose my guide,
    Whose mortal lip selected to declare
    Its oracles, what fleshly garb would wear
    --The first of intimations, whom to love;
    The next, how love him. Seemed that orb, above
    The castle-covert and the mountain-close,
    Slow in appearing,--if beneath it rose
    Cravings, aversions,--did our green precinct
    Take pride in me, at unawares distinct
    With this or that endowment,--how, repressed
    At once, such jetting power shrank to the rest!
    Was I to have a chance touch spoil me, leave
    My spirit thence unfitted to receive
    The consummating spell?--that spell so near
    Moreover! 'Waits he not the waking year?
    His almond-blossoms must be honey-ripe
    By this; to welcome him, fresh runnels stripe
    The thawed ravines; because of him, the wind
    Walks like a herald. I shall surely find
    Him now!'
             "And chief, that earnest April morn
    Of Richard's Love-court, was it time, so worn
            [Sidenote: A reverse to, and completion of, his.]
    And white my cheek, so idly my blood beat,
    Sitting that morn beside the Lady's feet
    And saying as she prompted; till outburst
    One face from all the faces. Not then first
    I knew it; where in maple chamber glooms,
    Crowned with what sanguine-heart pomegranate blooms
    Advanced it ever? Men's acknowledgment
    Sanctioned my own: 't was taken, Palma's bent,--
    Sordello,--recognized, accepted.
    Sat she still scheming. Ecelin would come
    Gaunt, scared, 'Cesano baffles me,' he 'd say:
    'Better I fought it out, my father's way!
    Strangle Ferrara in its drowning flats,
    And you and your Taurello yonder!--what 's
    Romano's business there?' An hour's concern
    To cure the froward Chief!--induce return
    As heartened from those overmeaning eyes,
    Wound up to persevere,--his enterprise
    Marked out anew, its exigent of wit
    Apportioned,--she at liberty to sit
    And scheme against the next emergence, I--
    To covet her Taurello-sprite, made fly
    Or fold the wing--to con your horoscope
    For leave command those steely shafts shoot ope,
    Or straight assuage their blinding eagerness
    In blank smooth snow. What semblance of success
    To any of my plans for making you
            [Sidenote: How she ever aspired for his sake,]
    Mine and Romano's? Break the first wall through,
    Tread o'er the ruins of the Chief, supplant
    His sons beside, still, vainest were the vaunt:
    There, Salinguerra would obstruct me sheer,
    And the insuperable Tuscan, here,
    Stay me! But one wild eve that Lady died
    In her lone chamber: only I beside:
    Taurello far at Naples, and my sire
    At Padua, Ecelin away in ire
    With Alberic. She held me thus--a clutch
            [Sidenote: Circumstances helping or hindering.]
    To make our spirits as our bodies touch--
    And so began flinging the past up, heaps
    Of uncouth treasure from their sunless sleeps
    Within her soul; deeds rose along with dreams,
    Fragments of many miserable schemes,
    Secrets, more secrets, then--no, not the last--
    'Mongst others, like a casual trick o' the past,
    How ... ay, she told me, gathering up her face,
    All left of it, into one arch-grimace
    To die with ...
                    "Friend, 't is gone! but not the fear
    Of that fell laughing, heard as now I hear.
    Nor faltered voice, nor seemed her heart grow weak
    When i' the midst abrupt she ceased to speak
    --Dead, as to serve a purpose, mark!--for in
    Rushed o' the very instant Ecelin
    (How summoned, who divines?)--looking as if
    He understood why Adelaide lay stiff
    Already in my arms; for, 'Girl, how must
    I manage Este in the matter thrust
    Upon me, how unravel your bad coil?--
    Since' (he declared) ''t is on your brow--a soil
    Like hers there!' then in the same breath, 'he lacked
    No counsel after all, had signed no pact
    With devils, nor was treason here or there,
    Goito or Vicenza, his affair:
    He buried it in Adelaide's deep grave,
    Would begin life afresh, now,--would not slave
    For any Friedrich's nor Taurello's sake!
    What booted him to meddle or to make
    In Lombardy?' And afterward I knew
    The meaning of his promise to undo
    All she had done--why marriages were made,
    New friendships entered on, old followers paid
    With curses for their pains,--new friends' amaze
    At height, when, passing out by Gate Saint Blaise,
    He stopped short in Vicenza, bent his head
    Over a friar's neck,--'had vowed,' he said,
    'Long since, nigh thirty years, because his wife
    And child were saved there, to bestow his life
    On God, his gettings on the Church.'
    Within Goito, still one dream beguiled
            [Sidenote: How success at last seemed possible,]
    My days and nights; 't was found, the orb I sought
    To serve, those glimpses came of Fomalhaut,
    No other: but how serve it?--authorize
    You and Romano mingled destinies?
    And straight Romano's angel stood beside
    Me who had else been Boniface's bride,
    For Salinguerra 't was, with neck low bent,
    And voice lightened to music, (as he meant
    To learn, not teach me,) who withdrew the pall
    From the dead past and straight revived it all,
    Making me see how first Romano waxed,
    Wherefore he waned now, why, if I relaxed
    My grasp (even I!) would drop a thing effete,
    Frayed by itself, unequal to complete
    Its course, and counting every step astray
            [Sidenote: By the intervention of Salinguerra:]
    A gain so much. Romano, every way
    Stable, a Lombard House now--why start back
    Into the very outset of its track?
    This patching principle which late allied
    Our House with other Houses--what beside
    Concerned the apparition, the first Knight
    Who followed Conrad hither in such plight
    His utmost wealth was summed in his one steed?
    For Ecelo, that prowler, was decreed
    A task, in the beginning hazardous
    To him as ever task can be to us;
    But did the weather-beaten thief despair
    When first our crystal cincture of warm air,
    That binds the Trevisan,--as its spice-belt
    (Crusaders say) the tract where Jesus dwelt,--
    Furtive he pierced, and Este was to face--
    Despaired Saponian strength of Lombard grace?
    Tried he at making surer aught made sure,
    Maturing what already was mature?
    No; his heart prompted Ecelo, 'Confront
    Este, inspect yourself. What 's nature? Wont.
    Discard three-parts your nature, and adopt
            [Sidenote: Who remedied ill wrought by Ecelin,]
    The rest as an advantage!' Old strength propped
    The man who first grew Podesta among
    The Vicentines, no less than, while there sprung
    His palace up in Padua like a threat,
    Their noblest spied a grace, unnoticed yet
    In Conrad's crew. Thus far the object gained,
    Romano was established--has remained--
    'For are you not Italian, truly peers
    With Este? "Azzo" better soothes our ears
    Than "Alberic"? or is this lion's-crine
    From over-mounts' (this yellow hair of mine)
    'So weak a graft on Agnes Este's stock?'
    (Thus went he on with something of a mock)
    'Wherefore recoil, then, from the very fate
    Conceded you, refuse to imitate
    Your model farther? Este long since left
    Being mere Este: as a blade its heft,
    Este required the Pope to further him;
    And you, the Kaiser--whom your father's whim
    Foregoes or, better, never shall forego
    If Palma dare pursue what Ecelo
    Commenced, but Ecelin desists from: just
    As Adelaide of Susa could intrust
    Her donative,--her Piedmont given the Pope,
    Her Alpine-pass for him to shut or ope
    'Twixt France and Italy,--to the superb
    Matilda's perfecting,--so, lest aught curb
    Our Adelaide's great counter-project for
    Giving her Trentine to the Emperor
    With passage here from Germany,--shall you
    Take it,--my slender plodding talent, too!'
    --Urged me Taurello with his half-smile.
    As Patron of the scattered family
    Conveyed me to his Mantua, kept in bruit
    Azzo's alliances and Richard's suit
    Until, the Kaiser excommunicate,
    'Nothing remains,' Taurello said, 'but wait
    Some rash procedure: Palma was the link,
    As Agnes' child, between us, and they shrink
            [Sidenote: And had a project for her own glory,]
    From losing Palma: judge if we advance,
    Your father's method, your inheritance!'
    The day I was betrothed to Boniface
    At Padua by Taurello's self, took place
    The outrage of the Ferrarese: again,
    The day I sought Verona with the train
    Agreed for,--by Taurello's policy
    Convicting Richard of the fault, since we
    Were present to annul or to confirm,--
    Richard, whose patience had outstayed its term,
    Quitted Verona for the siege.
                                  "And now
    What glory may engird Sordello's brow
    Through this? A month since at Oliero slunk
    All that was Ecelin into a monk;
    But how could Salinguerra so forget
    His liege of thirty years as grudge even yet
    One effort to recover him? He sent
    Forthwith the tidings of this last event
    To Ecelin--declared that he, despite
    The recent folly, recognized his right
    To order Salinguerra: 'Should he wring
    Its uttermost advantage out, or fling
    This chance away? Or were his sons now Head
    O' the House?' Through me Taurello's missive sped;
    My father's answer will by me return.
    Behold! 'For him,' he writes, 'no more concern
    With strife than, for his children, with fresh plots
    Of Friedrich. Old engagements out he blots
    For aye: Taurello shall no more subserve,
    Nor Ecelin impose.' Lest this unnerve
    Taurello at this juncture, slack his grip
    Of Richard, suffer the occasion slip,--
    I, in his sons' default (who, mating with
    Este, forsake Romano as the frith
    Its mainsea for that firmland, sea makes head
    Against) I stand, Romano,--in their stead
    Assume the station they desert, and give
    Still, as the Kaiser's representative,
    Taurello license he demands. Midnight--
    Morning--by noon to-morrow, making light
            [Sidenote: Which she would change to Sordello's.]
    Of the League's issue, we, in some gay weed
    Like yours, disguised together, may precede
    The arbitrators to Ferrara: reach
    Him, let Taurello's noble accents teach
    The rest! Then say if I have misconceived
    Your destiny, too readily believed
    The Kaiser's cause your own!"
                                  And Palma 's fled.
    Though no affirmative disturbs the head,
    A dying lamp-flame sinks and rises o'er,
    Like the alighted planet Pollux wore,
    Until, morn breaking, he resolves to be
    Gate-vein of this heart's blood of Lombardy,
    Soul of this body--to wield this aggregate
    Of souls and bodies, and so conquer fate
    Though he should live--a centre of disgust
    Even--apart, core of the outward crust
    He vivifies, assimilates. For thus
    I bring Sordello to the rapturous
            [Sidenote: Thus then, having completed a circle,]
    Exclaim at the crowd's cry, because one round
    Of life was quite accomplished; and he found
    Not only that a soul, whate'er its might,
    Is insufficient to its own delight,
    Both in corporeal organs and in skill
    By means of such to body forth its Will--
    And, after, insufficient to apprise
    Men of that Will, oblige them recognize
    The Hid by the Revealed--but that, the last
    Nor lightest of the struggles overpast,
    Will he bade abdicate, which would not void
    The throne, might sit there, suffer he enjoyed
    Mankind, a varied and divine array
    Incapable of homage, the first way,
    Nor fit to render incidentally
    Tribute connived at, taken by the by,
    In joys. If thus with warrant to rescind
    The ignominious exile of mankind--
    Whose proper service, ascertained intact
    As yet, (to be by him themselves made act,
    Not watch Sordello acting each of them)
    Was to secure--if the true diadem
    Seemed imminent while our Sordello drank
    The wisdom of that golden Palma,--thank
    Verona's Lady in her citadel
    Founded by Gaulish Brennus, legends tell:
    And truly when she left him, the sun reared
    A head like the first clamberer's who peered
    A-top the Capitol, his face on flame
    With triumph, triumphing till Manlius came.
    Nor slight too much my rhymes--that spring, dispread,
    Dispart, disperse, lingering overhead
    Like an escape of angels! Rather say,
            [Sidenote: The poet may pause and breathe,]
    My transcendental platan! mounting gay
    (An archimage so courts a novice-queen)
    With tremulous silvered trunk, whence branches sheen
    Laugh out, thick foliaged next, a-shiver soon
    With colored buds, then glowing like the moon
    One mild flame,--last a pause, a burst, and all
    Her ivory limbs are smothered by a fall,
    Bloom-flinders and fruit-sparkles and leaf-dust,
    Ending the weird work prosecuted just
    For her amusement; he decrepit, stark,
    Dozes; her uncontrolled delight may mark
            Yet not so, surely never so!
    Only, as good my soul were suffered go
    O'er the lagune: forth fare thee, put aside--
    Entrance thy synod, as a god may glide
    Out of the world he fills, and leave it mute
    For myriad ages as we men compute,
    Returning into it without a break
            [Sidenote: Being really in the flesh at Venice.]
    O' the consciousness! They sleep, and I awake
    O'er the lagune, being at Venice.
    In just such songs as Eglamor (say) wrote
    With heart and soul and strength, for he believed
    Himself achieving all to be achieved
    By singer--in such songs you find alone
    Completeness, judge the song and singer one,
    And either purpose answered, his in it
    Or its in him: while from true works (to wit
    Sordello's dream-performances that will
    Never be more than dreamed) escapes there still
    Some proof, the singer's proper life was 'neath
    The life his song exhibits, this a sheath
    To that; a passion and a knowledge far
    Transcending these, majestic as they are,
    Smouldered; his lay was but an episode
    In the bard's life: which evidence you owed
    To some slight weariness, some looking-off
    Or start-away. The childish skit or scoff
    In "Charlemagne," (his poem, dreamed divine
    In every point except one silly line
    About the restiff daughters)--what may lurk
    In that? "My life commenced before this work,"
    (So I interpret the significance
    Of the bard's start aside and look askance)--
    "My life continues after: on I fare
    With no more stopping, possibly, no care
            [Sidenote: And watching his own life sometimes,]
    To note the undercurrent, the why and how,
    Where, when, o' the deeper life, as thus just now.
    But, silent, shall I cease to live? Alas
    For you! who sigh, 'When shall it come to pass
    We read that story? How will he compress
    The future gains, his life's true business,
    Into the better lay which--that one flout,
    Howe'er inopportune it be, lets out--
    Engrosses him already, though professed
    To meditate with us eternal rest,
    And partnership in all his life has found?'"
    'T is but a sailor's promise, weather-bound:
    "Strike sail, slip cable, here the bark be moored
    For once, the awning stretched, the poles assured!
    Noontide above; except the wave's crisp dash,
    Or buzz of colibri, or tortoise' splash,
    The margin 's silent: out with every spoil
    Made in our tracking, coil by mighty coil,
    This serpent of a river to his head
    I' the midst! Admire each treasure, as we spread
    The bank, to help us tell our history
    Aright: give ear, endeavor to descry
    The groves of giant rushes, how they grew
    Like demons' endlong tresses we sailed through,
    What mountains yawned, forests to give us vent
    Opened, each doleful side, yet on we went
    Till ... may that beetle (shake your cap) attest
    The springing of a land-wind from the West!"
      --Wherefore? Ah yes, you frolic it to-day!
    To-morrow, and, the pageant moved away
    Down to the poorest tent-pole, we and you
    Part company: no other may pursue
    Eastward your voyage, be informed what fate
    Intends, if triumph or decline await
    The tempter of the everlasting steppe.
      I muse this on a ruined palace-step
    At Venice: why should I break off, nor sit
    Longer upon my step, exhaust the fit
    England gave birth to? Who 's adorable
    Enough reclaim a----no Sordello's Will
    Alack!--be queen to me? That Bassanese
    Busied among her smoking fruit-boats? These
    Perhaps from our delicious Asolo
    Who twinkle, pigeons o'er the portico
    Not prettier, bind June lilies into sheaves
    To deck the bridge-side chapel, dropping leaves
            [Sidenote: Because it is pleasant to be young,]
    Soiled by their own loose gold-meal?
      Ah, beneath
    The cool arch stoops she, brownest cheek! Her wreath
    Endures a month--a half month--if I make
    A queen of her, continue for her sake
    Sordello's story? Nay, that Paduan girl
    Splashes with barer legs where a live whirl
    In the dead black Giudecca proves sea-weed
    Drifting has sucked down three, four, all indeed
    Save one pale-red striped, pale-blue turbaned post
    For gondolas.
                  You sad dishevelled ghost
    That pluck at me and point, are you advised
    I breathe? Let stay those girls (e'en her disguised
    --Jewels i' the locks that love no crownet like
    Their native field-buds and the green wheat-spike,
    So fair!--who left this end of June's turmoil,
    Shook off, as might a lily its gold soil,
    Pomp, save a foolish gem or two, and free
    In dream, came join the peasants o'er the sea).
    Look they too happy, too tricked out? Confess
    There is such niggard stock of happiness
    To share, that, do one's uttermost, dear wretch,
    One labors ineffectually to stretch
            [Sidenote: Would but suffering humanity allow!]
    It o'er you so that mother and children, both
    May equitably flaunt the sumpter-cloth!
    Divide the robe yet farther: be content
    With seeing just a score pre-eminent
    Through shreds of it, acknowledged happy wights,
    Engrossing what should furnish all, by rights!
    For, these in evidence, you clearlier claim
    A like garb for the rest,--grace all, the same
    As these my peasants. I ask youth and strength
    And health for each of you, not more--at length
    Grown wise, who asked at home that the whole race
    Might add the spirit's to the body's grace,
    And all be dizened out as chiefs and bards.
    But in this magic weather one discards
    Much old requirement. Venice seems a type
    Of Life--'twixt blue and blue extends, a stripe,
    As Life, the somewhat, hangs 'twixt naught and naught:
    'T is Venice, and 't is Life--as good you sought
    To spare me the Piazza's slippery stone
    Or keep me to the unchoked canals alone,
    As hinder Life the evil with the good
    Which make up Living, rightly understood.
            [Sidenote: Which instigates to tasks like this,]
    Only, do finish something! Peasants, queens,
    Take them, made happy by whatever means,
    Parade them for the common credit, vouch
    That a luckless residue, we send to crouch
    In corners out of sight, was just as framed
    For happiness, its portion might have claimed
    As well, and so, obtaining joy, had stalked
    Fastuous as any!--such my project, balked
    Already; I hardly venture to adjust
    The first rags, when you find me. To mistrust
    Me!--nor unreasonably. You, no doubt,
    Have the true knack of tiring suitors out
    With those thin lips on tremble, lashless eyes
    Inveterately tear-shot--there, be wise,
    Mistress of mine, there, there, as if I meant
    You insult!--shall your friend (not slave) be shent
    For speaking home? Beside, care-bit erased
    Broken-up beauties ever took my taste
    Supremely; and I love you more, far more
    Than her I looked should foot Life's temple-floor.
    Years ago, leagues at distance, when and where
    A whisper came, "Let others seek!--thy care
            [Sidenote: And doubtlessly compensates them,]
    Is found, thy life's provision; if thy race
    Should be thy mistress, and into one face
    The many faces crowd?" Ah, had I, judge,
    Or no, your secret? Rough apparel--grudge
    All ornaments save tag or tassel worn
    To hint we are not thoroughly forlorn--
    Slouch bonnet, unloop mantle, careless go
    Alone (that 's saddest, but it must be so)
    Through Venice, sing now and now glance aside,
    Aught desultory or undignified,--
    Then, ravishingest lady, will you pass
    Or not each formidable group, the mass
    Before the Basilic (that feast gone by,
    God's great day of the Corpus Domini)
    And, wistfully foregoing proper men,
    Come timid up to me for alms? And then
    The luxury to hesitate, feign do
    Some unexampled grace!--when, whom but you
    Dare I bestow your own upon? And hear
    Further before you say, it is to sneer
    I call you ravishing; for I regret
    Little that she, whose early foot was set
    Forth as she 'd plant it on a pedestal,
    Now, i' the silent city, seems to fall
    Toward me--no wreath, only a lip's unrest
    To quiet, surcharged eyelids to be pressed
    Dry of their tears upon my bosom. Strange
    Such sad chance should produce in thee such change,
    My love! Warped souls and bodies! yet God spoke
    Of right-hand, foot and eye--selects our yoke,
    Sordello, as your poetship may find!
    So, sleep upon my shoulder, child, nor mind
    Their foolish talk; we 'll manage reinstate
    Your old worth; ask moreover, when they prate
    Of evil men past hope, "Don't each contrive,
    Despite the evil you abuse, to live?--
    Keeping, each losel, through a maze of lies,
    His own conceit of truth? to which he hies
    By obscure windings, tortuous, if you will,
    But to himself not inaccessible;
    He sees truth, and his lies are for the crowd
    Who cannot see; some fancied right allowed
    His vilest wrong, empowered the losel clutch
    One pleasure from a multitude of such
            [Sidenote: As those who desist should remember.]
    Denied him." Then assert, "All men appear
    To think all better than themselves, by here
    Trusting a crowd they wrong; but really," say,
    "All men think all men stupider than they,
    Since, save themselves, no other comprehends
    The complicated scheme to make amends
    --Evil, the scheme by which, through Ignorance,
    Good labors to exist." A slight advance,--
    Merely to find the sickness you die through,
    And naught beside! but if one can't eschew
    One's portion in the common lot, at least
    One can avoid an ignorance increased
    Tenfold by dealing out hint after hint
    How naught were like dispensing without stint
    The water of life--so easy to dispense
    Beside, when one has probed the centre whence
    Commotion 's born--could tell you of it all!
    "--Meantime, just meditate my madrigal
    O' the mugwort that conceals a dewdrop safe!"
    What, dullard? we and you in smothery chafe,
    Babes, baldheads, stumbled thus far into Zin
    The Horrid, getting neither out nor in,
    A hungry sun above us, sands that bung
    Our throats,--each dromedary lolls a tongue,
    Each camel churns a sick and frothy chap,
    And you, 'twixt tales of Potiphar's mishap,
    And sonnets on the earliest ass that spoke,
    --Remark, you wonder any one needs choke
    With founts about! Potsherd him, Gibeonites!
    While awkwardly enough your Moses smites
    The rock, though he forego his Promised Land
    Thereby, have Satan claim his carcass, and
    Figure as Metaphysic Poet ... ah,
    Mark ye the dim first oozings? Meribah!
    Then, quaffing at the fount my courage gained,
    Recall--not that I prompt ye--who explained ...
    "Presumptuous!" interrupts one. You, not I
    'T is, brother, marvel at and magnify
            [Sidenote: Let the poet take his own part, then,]
    Such office: "office," quotha? can we get
    To the beginning of the office yet?
    What do we here? simply experiment
    Each on the other's power and its intent
    When elsewhere tasked,--if this of mine were trucked
    For yours to either's good,--we watch construct,
    In short, an engine: with a finished one,
    What it can do, is all,--naught, how 't is done.
    But this of ours yet in probation, dusk
    A kernel of strange wheelwork through its husk
    Grows into shape by quarters and by halves;
    Remark this tooth's spring, wonder what that valve's
    Fall bodes, presume each faculty's device,
    Make out each other more or less precise--
    The scope of the whole engine 's to be proved;
    We die: which means to say, the whole 's removed,
    Dismounted wheel by wheel, this complex gin,--
    To be set up anew elsewhere, begin
    A task indeed, but with a clearer clime
    Than the murk lodgment of our building-time.
    And then, I grant you, it behoves forget
    How 't is done--all that must amuse us yet
    So long: and, while you turn upon your heel,
    Pray that I be not busy slitting steel
            [Sidenote: Should any object that he was dull]
    Or shredding brass, camped on some virgin shore
    Under a cluster of fresh stars, before
    I name a tithe o' the wheels I trust to do!
      So occupied, then, are we: hitherto,
    At present, and a weary while to come,
    The office of ourselves,--nor blind nor dumb,
    And seeing somewhat of man's state,--has been,
    For the worst of us, to say they so have seen;
    For the better, what it was they saw; the best
    Impart the gift of seeing to the rest:
    "So that I glance," says such an one, "around,
    And there 's no face but I can read profound
    Disclosures in; this stands for hope, that--fear,
    And for a speech, a deed in proof, look here!
    'Stoop, else the strings of blossom, where the nuts
    O'erarch, will blind thee! Said I not? She shuts
    Both eyes this time, so close the hazels meet!
    Thus, prisoned in the Piombi, I repeat
    Events one rove occasioned, o'er and o'er,
    Putting 'twixt me and madness evermore
    Thy sweet shape, Zanze! Therefore stoop!'
                                            'That's truth!'
    (Adjudge you) 'the incarcerated youth
    Would say that!'
                     Youth? Plara the bard? Set down
    That Plara spent his youth in a grim town
    Whose cramped ill-featured streets huddled about
    The minster for protection, never out
    Of its black belfry's shade and its bells' roar.
    The brighter shone the suburb,--all the more
    Ugly and absolute that shade's reproof
    Of any chance escape of joy,--some roof,
    Taller than they, allowed the rest detect,--
    Before the sole permitted laugh (suspect
    Who could, 't was meant for laughter, that ploughed cheek's
    Repulsive gleam!) when the sun stopped both peaks
    Of the cleft belfry like a fiery wedge,
    Then sank, a huge flame on its socket edge,
    With leavings on the gray glass oriel-pane
    Ghastly some minutes more. No fear of rain--
    The minster minded that! in heaps the dust
    Lay everywhere. This town, the minster's trust,
            [Sidenote: Beside his sprightlier predecessors.]
    Held Plara; who, its denizen, bade hail
    In twice twelve sonnets, Tempe's dewy vale."
    "'Exact the town, the minster and the street!'"
    "As all mirth triumphs, sadness means defeat:
    Lust triumphs and is gay, Love 's triumphed o'er
    And sad: but Lucio 's sad. I said before,
    Love 's sad, not Lucio; one who loves may be
    As gay his love has leave to hope, as he
    Downcast that lusts' desire escapes the springe:
    'T is of the mood itself I speak, what tinge
    Determines it, else colorless,--or mirth,
    Or melancholy, as from heaven or earth."
    "'Ay, that's the variation's gist!'
    Thus far advanced in safety then, proceed!
    And having seen too what I saw, be bold
    And next encounter what I do behold
    (That 's sure) but bid you take on trust!"
    The use and purpose of such sights? Alack,
    Not so unwisely does the crowd dispense
    On Salinguerras praise in preference
            [Sidenote: One ought not blame but praise this;]
    To the Sordellos: men of action, these!
    Who, seeing just as little as you please,
    Yet turn that little to account,--engage
    With, do not gaze at,--carry on, a stage,
    The work o' the world, not merely make report
    The work existed ere their day! In short,
    When at some future no-time a brave band
    Sees, using what it sees, then shake my hand
    In heaven, my brother! Meanwhile where 's the hurt
    Of keeping the Makers-see on the alert,
    At whose defection mortals stare aghast
    As though heaven's bounteous windows were slammed fast
    Incontinent? Whereas all you, beneath,
    Should scowl at, bruise their lips and break their teeth
    Who ply the pullies, for neglecting you:
    And therefore have I moulded, made anew
    A Man, and give him to be turned and tried,
    Be angry with or pleased at. On your side,
    Have ye times, places, actors of your own?
            [Sidenote: At all events, his own audience may:]
    Try them upon Sordello when full-grown,
    And then--ah then! If Hercules first parched
    His foot in Egypt only to be marched
    A sacrifice for Jove with pomp to suit,
    What chance have I? The demigod was mute
    Till, at the altar, where time out of mind
    Such guests became oblations, chaplets twined
    His forehead long enough, and he began
    Slaying the slayers, nor escaped a man.
    Take not affront, my gentle audience! whom
    No Hercules shall make his hecatomb,
    Believe, nor from his brows your chaplet rend--
    That's your kind suffrage, yours, my patron-friend,
    Whose great verse blares unintermittent on
    Like your own trumpeter at Marathon,--
    You who, Platæa and Salamis being scant,
    Put up with Ætna for a stimulant--
    And did well, I acknowledged, as he loomed
    Over the midland sea last month, presumed
    Long, lay demolished in the blazing West
    At eve, while towards him tilting cloudlets pressed
    Like Persian ships at Salamis. Friend, wear
    A crest proud as desert while I declare
    Had I a flawless ruby fit to wring
    Tears of its color from that painted king
    Who lost it, I would, for that smile which went
    To my heart, fling it in the sea, content,
            [Sidenote: What if things brighten, who knows?]
    Wearing your verse in place, an amulet
    Sovereign against all passion, wear and fret!
    My English Eyebright, if you are not glad
    That, as I stopped my task awhile, the sad
    Dishevelled form, wherein I put mankind
    To come at times and keep my pact in mind,
    Renewed me,--hear no crickets in the hedge,
    Nor let a glowworm spot the river's edge
    At home, and may the summer showers gush
    Without a warning from the missel thrush!
    So, to our business, now--the fate of such
    As find our common nature--overmuch
    Despised because restricted and unfit
    To bear the burden they impose on it--
    Cling when they would discard it; craving strength
    To leap from the allotted world, at length
    They do leap,--flounder on without a term,
    Each a god's germ, doomed to remain a germ
    In unexpanded infancy, unless ...
    But that 's the story--dull enough, confess!
    There might be fitter subjects to allure;
    Still, neither misconceive my portraiture
    Nor undervalue its adornments quaint:
    What seems a fiend perchance may prove a saint.
    Ponder a story ancient pens transmit,
    Then say if you condemn me or acquit.
      John the Beloved, banished Antioch
    For Patmos, bade collectively his flock
            [Sidenote: Whereupon, with a story to the point,]
    Farewell, but set apart the closing eve
    To comfort those his exile most would grieve,
    He knew: a touching spectacle, that house
    In motion to receive him! Xanthus' spouse
    You missed, made panther's meat a month since; but
    Xanthus himself (his nephew 't was, they shut
    'Twixt boards and sawed asunder), Polycarp,
    Soft Charicle, next year no wheel could warp
    To swear by Cæsar's fortune, with the rest
    Were ranged; through whom the gray disciple pressed,
    Busily blessing right and left, just stopped
    To pat one infant's curls, the hangman cropped
    Soon after, reached the portal. On its hinge
    The door turns and he enters: what quick twinge
    Ruins the smiling mouth, those wide eyes fix
    Whereon, why like some spectral candlestick's
    Branch the disciple's arms? Dead swooned he, woke
    Anon, heaved sigh, made shift to gasp, heartbroke,
    "Get thee behind me, Satan! Have I toiled
    To no more purpose? Is the gospel foiled
    Here too, and o'er my son's, my Xanthus' hearth,
    Portrayed with sooty garb and features swarth--
    Ah, Xanthus, am I to thy roof beguiled
    To see the--the--the Devil domiciled?"
    Whereto sobbed Xanthus, "Father, 't is yourself
    Installed, a limning which our utmost pelf
    Went to procure against to-morrow's loss;
            [Sidenote: He takes up the thread of discourse.]
    And that's no twy-prong, but a pastoral cross,
    You're painted with!"
                          His puckered brows unfold--
    And you shall hear Sordello's story told.


    Meantime Ferrara lay in rueful case;
    The lady-city, for whose sole embrace
    Her pair of suitors struggled, felt their arms
    A brawny mischief to the fragile charms
    They tugged for--one discovering that to twist
    Her tresses twice or thrice about his wrist
    Secured a point of vantage--one, how best
    He 'd parry that by planting in her breast
    His elbow spike--each party too intent
            [Sidenote: Men suffered much,]
    For noticing, howe'er the battle went,
    The conqueror would but have a corpse to kiss.
    "May Boniface be duly damned for this!"
    --Howled some old Ghibellin, as up he turned,
    From the wet heap of rubbish where they burned
    His house, a little skull with dazzling teeth:
    "A boon, sweet Christ--let Salinguerra seethe
    In hell forever, Christ, and let myself
    Be there to laugh at him!"--moaned some young Guelf
    Stumbling upon a shrivelled hand nailed fast
    To the charred lintel of the doorway, last
    His father stood within to bid him speed.
    The thoroughfares were overrun with weed
    --Docks, quitchgrass, loathy mallows no man plants.
    The stranger, none of its inhabitants
            [Sidenote: Whichever of the parties was victor.]
    Crept out of doors to taste fresh air again,
    And ask the purpose of a splendid train
    Admitted on a morning; every town
    Of the East League was come by envoy down
    To treat for Richard's ransom: here you saw
    The Vicentine, here snowy oxen draw
    The Paduan carroch, its vermilion cross
    On its white field. A-tiptoe o'er the fosse
    Looked Legate Montelungo wistfully
    After the flock of steeples he might spy
    In Este's time, gone (doubts he) long ago
    To mend the ramparts: sure the laggards know
    The Pope 's as good as here! They paced the streets
    More soberly. At last, "Taurello greets
    The League," announced a pursuivant,--"will match
    Its courtesy, and labors to dispatch
    At earliest Tito, Friedrich's Pretor, sent
    On pressing matters from his post at Trent,
    With Mainard Count of Tyrol,--simply waits
    Their going to receive the delegates."
    "Tito!" Our delegates exchanged a glance,
    And, keeping the main way, admired askance
    The lazy engines of outlandish birth,
    Couched like a king each on its bank of earth--
    Arbalist, manganel and catapult;
    While stationed by, as waiting a result,
    Lean silent gangs of mercenaries ceased
    Working to watch the strangers. "This, at least,
    Were better spared; he scarce presumes gainsay
    The League's decision! Get our friend away
    And profit for the future: how else teach
    Fools 't is not safe to stray within claw's reach
    Ere Salinguerra's final gasp be blown?
    Those mere convulsive scratches find the bone.
    Who bade him bloody the spent osprey's nare?"
      The carrochs halted in the public square.
    Pennons of every blazon once a-flaunt,
    Men prattled, freelier that the crested gaunt
            [Sidenote: How Guelfs criticise Ghibellin work]
    White ostrich with a horse-shoe in her beak
    Was missing, and whoever chose might speak
    "Ecelin" boldly out: so,--"Ecelin
    Needed his wife to swallow half the sin
    And sickens by himself: the devil's whelp,
    He styles his son, dwindles away, no help
    From conserves, your fine triple-curded froth
    Of virgin's blood, your Venice viper-broth--
    Eh? Jubilate!"--"Peace! no little word
    You utter here that 's not distinctly heard
    Up at Oliero: he was absent sick
    When we besieged Bassano--who, i' the thick
    O' the work, perceived the progress Azzo made,
    Like Ecelin, through his witch Adelaide?
    She managed it so well that, night by night,
    At their bed-foot stood up a soldier-sprite,
    First fresh, pale by-and-by without a wound,
    And, when it came with eyes filmed as in swound,
    They knew the place was taken."--"Ominous
    That Ghibellins should get what cautelous
    Old Redbeard sought from Azzo's sire to wrench
    Vainly; Saint George contrived his town a trench
    O' the marshes, an impermeable bar."
    "--Young Ecelin is meant the tutelar
    Of Padua, rather; veins embrace upon
    His hand like Brenta and Bacchiglion."
    What now?--"The founts! God's bread, touch not a plank!
    A crawling hell of carrion--every tank
            [Sidenote: As unusually energetic in this case.]
    Choke full!--found out just now to Cino's cost--
    The same who gave Taurello up for lost,
    And, making no account of fortune's freaks,
    Refused to budge from Padua then, but sneaks
    Back now with Concorezzi--'faith! they drag
    Their carroch to San Vitale, plant the flag
    On his own palace, so adroitly razed
    He knew it not; a sort of Guelf folk gazed
    And laughed apart; Cino disliked their air--
    Must pluck up spirit, show he does not care--
    Seats himself on the tank's edge--will begin
    To hum, _za, za, Cavaler Ecelin_--
    A silence; he gets warmer, clinks to chime,
    Now both feet plough the ground, deeper each time,
    At last, _za, za_, and up with a fierce kick
    Comes his own mother's face caught by the thick
    Gray hair about his spur!"
                               Which means, they lift
    The covering, Salinguerra made a shift
    To stretch upon the truth; as well avoid
    Further disclosures; leave them thus employed.
    Our dropping Autumn morning clears apace,
    And poor Ferrara puts a softened face
    On her misfortunes. Let us scale this tall
    Huge foursquare line of red brick garden-wall
            [Sidenote: How, passing through the rare garden,]
    Bastioned within by trees of every sort
    On three sides, slender, spreading, long and short;
    Each grew as it contrived, the poplar ramped,
    The fig-tree reared itself,--but stark and cramped,
    Made fools of, like tamed lions: whence, on the edge,
    Running 'twixt trunk and trunk to smooth one ledge
    Of shade, were shrubs inserted, warp and woof,
    Which smothered up that variance. Scale the roof
    Of solid tops, and o'er the slope you slide
    Down to a grassy space level and wide,
    Here and there dotted with a tree, but trees
    Of rarer leaf, each foreigner at ease,
    Set by itself: and in the centre spreads,
    Borne upon three uneasy leopards' heads,
    A laver, broad and shallow, one bright spirt
    Of water bubbles in. The walls begirt
    With trees leave off on either hand; pursue
    Your path along a wondrous avenue
    Those walls abut on, heaped of gleamy stone,
    With aloes leering everywhere, gray-grown
    From many a Moorish summer: how they wind
    Out of the fissures! likelier to bind
    The building than those rusted cramps which drop
    Already in the eating sunshine. Stop,
    You fleeting shapes above there! Ah, the pride
    Or else despair of the whole country-side!
    A range of statues, swarming o'er with wasps,
            [Sidenote: Salinguerra contrived for a purpose,]
    God, goddess, woman, man, the Greek rough-rasps
    In crumbling Naples marble--meant to look
    Like those Messina marbles Constance took
    Delight in, or Taurello's self conveyed
    To Mantua for his mistress, Adelaide,
    A certain font with caryatides
    Since cloistered at Goito; only, these
    Are up and doing, not abashed, a troop
    Able to right themselves--who see you, stoop
    Their arms o' the instant after you! Unplucked
    By this or that, you pass; for they conduct
    To terrace raised on terrace, and, between,
    Creatures of brighter mould and braver mien
    Than any yet, the choicest of the Isle
    No doubt. Here, left a sullen breathing-while,
    Up-gathered on himself the Fighter stood
    For his last fight, and, wiping treacherous blood
    Out of the eyelids just held ope beneath
    Those shading fingers in their iron sheath,
    Steadied his strengths amid the buzz and stir
    Of the dusk hideous amphitheatre
    At the announcement of his over-match
    To wind the day's diversion up, dispatch
    The pertinacious Gaul: while, limbs one heap,
    The Slave, no breath in her round mouth, watched leap
    Dart after dart forth, as her hero's car
    Clove dizzily the solid of the war
    --Let coil about his knees for pride in him.
    We reach the farthest terrace, and the grim
    San Pietro Palace stops us.
                                Such the state
    Of Salinguerra's plan to emulate
    Sicilian marvels, that his girlish wife
    Retrude still might lead her ancient life
    In her new home: whereat enlarged so much
    Neighbors upon the novel princely touch
    He took,--who here imprisons Boniface.
    Here must the Envoys come to sue for grace;
    And here, emerging from the labyrinth
    Below, Sordello paused beside the plinth
    Of the door-pillar.
            [Sidenote: Sordello ponders all seen and heard,]
                        He had really left
    Verona for the cornfields (a poor theft
    From the morass) where Este's camp was made.
    The Envoys' march, the Legate's cavalcade--
    All had been seen by him, but scarce as when,--
    Eager for cause to stand aloof from men
    At every point save the fantastic tie
    Acknowledged in his boyish sophistry,--
    He made account of such. A crowd,--he meant
    To task the whole of it; each part's intent
    Concerned him therefore: and, the more he pried,
    The less became Sordello satisfied
    With his own figure at the moment. Sought
    He respite from his task? Descried he aught
    Novel in the anticipated sight
    Of all these livers upon all delight?
    This phalanx, as of myriad points combined,
    Whereby he still had imaged the mankind
    His youth was passed in dreams of rivalling,
    His age--in plans to prove at least such thing
    Had been so dreamed,--which now he must impress
    With his own will, effect a happiness
    By theirs,--supply a body to his soul
    Thence, and become eventually whole
    With them as he had hoped to be without--
            [Sidenote: Finds in men no machine for his sake,]
    Made these the mankind he once raved about?
    Because a few of them were notable,
    Should all be figured worthy note? As well
    Expect to find Taurello's triple line
    Of trees a single and prodigious pine.
    Real pines rose here and there; but, close among,
    Thrust into and mixed up with pines, a throng
    Of shrubs, he saw,--a nameless common sort
    O'erpast in dreams, left out of the report
    And hurried into corners, or at best
    Admitted to be fancied like the rest.
    Reckon that morning's proper chiefs--how few!
    And yet the people grew, the people grew,
    Grew ever, as if the many there indeed,
    More left behind and most who should succeed,--
    Simply in virtue of their mouths and eyes,
    Petty enjoyments and huge miseries,--
    Mingled with, and made veritably great
    Those chiefs: he overlooked not Mainard's state
    Nor Concorezzi's station, but instead
    Of stopping there, each dwindled to be head
    Of infinite and absent Tyrolese
    Or Paduans; startling all the more, that these
    Seemed passive and disposed of, uncared for,
    Yet doubtless on the whole (like Eglamor)
    Smiling; for if a wealthy man decays
    And out of store of robes must wear, all days,
    One tattered suit, alike in sun and shade,
    'Tis commonly some tarnished gay brocade
    Fit for a feast-night's flourish and no more:
    Nor otherwise poor Misery from her store
    Of looks is fain upgather, keep unfurled
    For common wear as she goes through the world,
    The faint remainder of some worn-out smile
    Meant for a feast-night's service merely. While
    Crowd upon crowd rose on Sordello thus,--
    (Crowds no way interfering to discuss,
    Much less dispute, life's joys with one employed
    In envying them,--or, if they aught enjoyed,
    Where lingered something indefinable
    In every look and tone, the mirth as well
    As woe, that fixed at once his estimate
    Of the result, their good or bad estate)--
            [Sidenote: But a thing with life of its own,]
    Old memories returned with new effect:
    And the new body, ere he could suspect,
    Cohered, mankind and he were really fused,
    The new self seemed impatient to be used
    By him, but utterly another way
    Than that anticipated: strange to say,
    They were too much below him, more in thrall
    Than he, the adjunct than the principal.
    What booted scattered units?--here a mind
    And there, which might repay his own to find,
    And stamp, and use?--a few, howe'er august,
    If all the rest were grovelling in the dust?
    No: first a mighty equilibrium, sure,
    Should he establish, privilege procure
    For all, the few had long possessed! He felt
    An error, an exceeding error melt--
    While he was occupied with Mantuan chants,
    Behoved him think of men, and take their wants,
    Such as he now distinguished every side,
    As his own want which might be satisfied,--
    And, after that, think of rare qualities
    Of his own soul demanding exercise.
    It followed naturally, through no claim
    On their part, which made virtue of the aim
    At serving them, on his,--that, past retrieve,
    He felt now in their toils, theirs,--nor could leave
    Wonder how, in the eagerness to rule,
    Impress his will on mankind, he (the fool!)
    Had never even entertained the thought
    That this his last arrangement might be fraught
    With incidental good to them as well,
            [Sidenote: And rights hitherto ignored by him,]
    And that mankind's delight would help to swell
    His own. So, if he sighed, as formerly
    Because the merry time of life must fleet,
    'T was deeplier now,--for could the crowds repeat
    Their poor experiences? His hand that shook
    Was twice to be deplored. "The Legate, look!
    With eyes, like fresh-blown thrush-eggs on a thread,
    Faint-blue and loosely floating in his head,
    Large tongue, moist open mouth; and this long while
    That owner of the idiotic smile
            [Sidenote: A fault he is now anxious to repair,]
    Serves them!"
                 He fortunately saw in time
    His fault however, and since the office prime
    Includes the secondary--best accept
    Both offices; Taurello, its adept,
    Could teach him the preparatory one,
    And how to do what he had fancied done
    Long previously, ere take the greater task,
    How render first these people happy? Ask
    The people's friends: for there must be one good,
    One way to it--the Cause!--he understood
    The meaning now of Palma; why the jar
    Else, the ado, the trouble wide and far
    Of Guelfs and Ghibellins, the Lombard hope
    And Rome's despair?--'twixt Emperor and Pope
    The confused shifting sort of Eden tale--
    Hardihood still recurring, still to fail--
    That foreign interloping fiend, this free
    And native overbrooding deity--
    Yet a dire fascination o'er the palms
    The Kaiser ruined, troubling even the calms
    Of paradise--or, on the other hand,
            [Sidenote: Since he apprehends its full extent,]
    The Pontiff, as the Kaisers understand,
    One snake-like cursed of God to love the ground,
    Whose heavy length breaks in the noon profound
    Some saving tree--which needs the Kaiser, dressed
    As the dislodging angel of that pest,
    Yet flames that pest bedropped, flat head, full fold,
    With coruscating dower of dyes. "Behold
    The secret, so to speak, and master-spring
    O' the contest!--which of the two Powers shall bring
    Men good--perchance the most good--ay, it may
    Be that!--the question, which best knows the way."
      And hereupon Count Mainard strutted past
    Out of San Pietro; never seemed the last
    Of archers, slingers: and our friend began
    To recollect strange modes of serving man,
    Arbalist, catapult, brake, manganel,
    And more. "This way of theirs may,--who can tell?--
    Need perfecting," said he: "let all be solved
    At once! Taurello 't is, the task devolved
    On late--confront Taurello!"
                                 And at last
    He did confront him. Scarce an hour had past
    When forth Sordello came, older by years
    Than at his entry. Unexampled fears
    Oppressed him, and he staggered off, blind, mute
    And deaf, like some fresh-mutilated brute,
    Into Ferrara--not the empty town
    That morning witnessed: he went up and down
    Streets whence the veil had been stripped shred by shred,
    So that, in place of huddling with their dead
    Indoors, to answer Salinguerra's ends,
    Townsfolk make shift to crawl forth, sit like friends
    With any one. A woman gave him choice
    Of her two daughters, the infantile voice
    Or the dimpled knee, for half a chain, his throat
    Was clasped with; but an archer knew the coat--
    Its blue cross and eight lilies,--bade beware
    One dogging him in concert with the pair
    Though thrumming on the sleeve that hid his knife.
    Night set in early, autumn dews were rife,
    They kindled great fires while the Leaguers' mass
    Began at every carroch--he must pass
    Between the kneeling people. Presently
    The carroch of Verona caught his eye
    With purple trappings; silently he bent
    Over its fire, when voices violent
    Began, "Affirm not whom the youth was like
    That struck me from the porch, I did not strike
    Again: I too have chestnut hair; my kin
            [Sidenote: And would fain have helped some way,]
    Hate Azzo and stand up for Ecelin.
    Here, minstrel, drive bad thoughts away! Sing! Take
    My glove for guerdon!" And for that man's sake
    He turned: "A song of Eglamor's!"--scarce named,
    When, "Our Sordello's rather!"--all exclaimed;
    "Is not Sordello famousest for rhyme?"
    He had been happy to deny, this time,--
    Profess as heretofore the aching head
    And failing heart,--suspect that in his stead
    Some true Apollo had the charge of them,
    Was champion to reward or to condemn,
    So his intolerable risk might shift
    Or share itself; but Naddo's precious gift
    Of gifts, he owned, be certain! At the close--
    "I made that," said he to a youth who rose
    As if to hear: 't was Palma through the band
    Conducted him in silence by her hand.
      Back now for Salinguerra. Tito of Trent
    Gave place to Palma and her friend; who went
    In turn at Montelungo's visit--one
    After the other were they come and gone,--
    These spokesmen for the Kaiser and the Pope,
    This incarnation of the People's hope,
    Sordello,--all the say of each was said;
    And Salinguerra sat, himself instead
    Of these to talk with, lingered musing yet.
    'T was a drear vast presence-chamber roughly set
    In order for the morning's use; full face,
    The Kaiser's ominous sign-mark had first place,
    The crowned grim twy-necked eagle, coarsely-blacked
    With ochre on the naked wall; nor lacked
    Romano's green and yellow either side;
    But the new token Tito brought had tried
    The Legate's patience--nay, if Palma knew
    What Salinguerra almost meant to do
    Until the sight of her restored his lip
    A certain half-smile, three months' chieftainship
    Had banished! Afterward, the Legate found
    No change in him, nor asked what badge he wound
    And unwound carelessly. Now sat the Chief
            [Sidenote: But Salinguerra is also preoccupied;]
    Silent as when our couple left, whose brief
    Encounter wrought so opportune effect
    In thoughts he summoned not, nor would reject,
    Though time 't was now if ever, to pause--fix
    On any sort of ending; wiles and tricks
    Exhausted, judge! his charge, the crazy town,
    Just managed to be hindered crashing down--
    His last sound troops ranged--care observed to post
    His best of the maimed soldiers innermost--
    So much was plain enough, but somehow struck
    Him not before. And now with this strange luck
    Of Tito's news, rewarding his address
    So well, what thought he of?--how the success
    With Friedrich's rescript there would either hush
    Old Ecelin's scruples, bring the manly flush
    To his young son's white cheek, or, last, exempt
    Himself from telling what there was to tempt?
            [Sidenote: Resembling Sordello in nothing else.]
    No: that this minstrel was Romano's last
    Servant--himself the first! Could he contrast
    The whole!--that minstrel's thirty years just spent
    In doing naught, their notablest event
    This morning's journey hither, as I told--
    Who yet was lean, outworn and really old,
    A stammering awkward man that scarce dared raise
    His eye before the magisterial gaze--
    And Salinguerra with his fears and hopes
    Of sixty years, his Emperors and Popes,
    Cares and contrivances, yet, you would say,
    'T was a youth nonchalantly looked away
    Through the embrasure northward o'er the sick
    Expostulating trees--so agile, quick
            [Sidenote: How he was made in body and spirit,]
    And graceful turned the head on the broad chest
    Encased in pliant steel, his constant vest,
    Whence split the sun off in a spray of fire
    Across the room; and, loosened of its tire
    Of steel, that head let breathe the comely brown
    Large massive locks discolored as if a crown
    Encircled them, so frayed the basnet where
    A sharp white line divided clean the hair;
    Glossy above, glossy below, it swept
    Curling and fine about a brow thus kept
    Calm, laid coat upon coat, marble and sound:
    This was the mystic mark the Tuscan found,
    Mused of, turned over books about. Square-faced,
    No lion more; two vivid eyes, enchased
    In hollows filled with many a shade and streak
    Settling from the bold nose and bearded cheek.
    Nor might the half-smile reach them that deformed
    A lip supremely perfect else--unwarmed,
    Unwidened, less or more; indifferent
    Whether on trees or men his thoughts were bent,
    Thoughts rarely, after all, in trim and train
    As now a period was fulfilled again:
    Of such, a series made his life, compressed
    In each, one story serving for the rest--
            [Sidenote: And what had been his career of old.]
    How his life-streams rolling arrived at last
    At the barrier, whence, were it once overpast,
    They would emerge, a river to the end,--
    Gathered themselves up, paused, bade fate befriend,
    Took the leap, hung a minute at the height,
    Then fell back to oblivion infinite:
    Therefore he smiled. Beyond stretched garden-grounds
    Where late the adversary, breaking bounds,
    Had gained him an occasion, That above,
    That eagle, testified he could improve
    Effectually. The Kaiser's symbol lay
    Beside his rescript, a new badge by way
    Of baldric; while,--another thing that marred
    Alike emprise, achievement and reward,--
    Ecelin's missive was conspicuous too.
      What past life did those flying thoughts pursue?
    As his, few names in Mantua half so old;
    But at Ferrara, where his sires enrolled
    It latterly, the Adelardi spared
    No pains to rival them: both factions shared
    Ferrara, so that, counted out, 't would yield
    A product very like the city's shield,
    Half black and white, or Ghibellin and Guelf
    As after Salinguerra styled himself
    And Este, who, till Marchesalla died,
    (Last of the Adelardi)--never tried
    His fortune there: with Marchesalla's child
    Would pass--could Blacks and Whites be reconciled,
    And young Taurello wed Linguetta--wealth
    And sway to a sole grasp. Each treats by stealth
    Already: when the Guelfs, the Ravennese
    Arrive, assault the Pietro quarter, seize
    Linguetta, and are gone! Men's first dismay
    Abated somewhat, hurries down, to lay
    The after indignation, Boniface,
    This Richard's father. "Learn the full disgrace
    Averted, ere you blame us Guelfs, who rate
    Your Salinguerra, your sole potentate
    That might have been, 'mongst Este's valvassors--
    Ay, Azzo's--who, not privy to, abhors
    Our step; but we were zealous." Azzo 's then
    To do with! Straight a meeting of old men:
    "Old Salinguerra dead, his heir a boy,
    What if we change our ruler and decoy
    The Lombard Eagle of the azure sphere
    With Italy to build in, fix him here,
    Settle the city's troubles in a trice?
    For private wrong, let public good suffice!"
            [Sidenote: The original check to his fortunes,]
    In fine, young Salinguerra's stanchest friends
    Talked of the townsmen making him amends,
    Gave him a goshawk, and affirmed there was
    Rare sport, one morning, over the green grass
    A mile or so. He sauntered through the plain,
    Was restless, fell to thinking, turned again
    In time for Azzo's entry with the bride;
    Count Boniface rode smirking at their side;
    "She brings him half Ferrara," whispers flew,
    "And all Ancona! If the stripling knew!"
      Anon the stripling was in Sicily
    Where Heinrich ruled in right of Constance; he
    Was gracious nor his guest incapable;
    Each understood the other. So it fell,
    One Spring, when Azzo, thoroughly at ease,
    Had near forgotten by what precise degrees
    He crept at first to such a downy seat,
    The Count trudged over in a special heat
    To bid him of God's love dislodge from each
    Of Salinguerra's palaces,--a breach
    Might yawn else, not so readily to shut,
    For who was just arrived at Mantua but
    The youngster, sword on thigh and tuft on chin,
            [Sidenote: Which he was in the way to retrieve,]
    With tokens for Celano, Ecelin,
    Pistore, and the like! Next news,--no whit
    Do any of Ferrara's domes befit
    His wife of Heinrich's very blood: a band
    Of foreigners assemble, understand
    Garden-constructing, level and surround,
    Build up and bury in. A last news crowned
    The consternation: since his infant's birth,
    He only waits they end his wondrous girth
    Of trees that link San Pietro with Tomà,
    To visit Mantua. When the Podestà
    Ecelin, at Vicenza, called his friend
    Taurello thither, what could be their end
    But to restore the Ghibellins' late Head,
    The Kaiser helping? He with most to dread
    From vengeance and reprisal, Azzo, there
    With Boniface beforehand, as aware
    Of plots in progress, gave alarm, expelled
    Both plotters: but the Guelfs in triumph yelled
    Too hastily. The burning and the flight,
    And how Taurello, occupied that night
    With Ecelin, lost wife and son, I told:
            [Sidenote: When a fresh calamity destroyed all:]
    --Not how he bore the blow, retained his hold,
    Got friends safe through, left enemies the worst
    O' the fray, and hardly seemed to care at first:
    But afterward men heard not constantly
    Of Salinguerra's House so sure to be!
    Though Azzo simply gained by the event
    A shifting of his plagues--the first, content
    To fall behind the second and estrange
    So far his nature, suffer such a change
    That in Romano sought he wife and child
    And for Romano's sake seemed reconciled
    To losing individual life, which shrunk
    As the other prospered--mortised in his trunk,
    Like a dwarf palm which wanton Arabs foil
    Of bearing its own proper wine and oil,
    By grafting into it the stranger-vine,
    Which sucks its heart out, sly and serpentine,
    Till forth one vine-palm feathers to the root,
    And red drops moisten the insipid fruit.
    Once Adelaide set on,--the subtle mate
    Of the weak soldier, urged to emulate
    The Church's valiant women deed for deed,
    And paragon her namesake, win the meed
    O' the great Matilda,--soon they overbore
    The rest of Lombardy,--not as before
    By an instinctive truculence, but patched
    The Kaiser's strategy until it matched
    The Pontiff's, sought old ends by novel means.
    "Only, why is it Salinguerra screens
    Himself behind Romano?--him we bade
    Enjoy our shine i' the front, not seek the shade!"
    --Asked Heinrich, somewhat of the tardiest
    To comprehend. Nor Philip acquiesced
    At once in the arrangement; reasoned, plied
    His friend with offers of another bride,
    A statelier function--fruitlessly: 't was plain
            [Sidenote: He sank into a secondary personage,]
    Taurello through some weakness must remain
    Obscure. And Otho, free to judge of both,
    --Ecelin the unready, harsh and loth,
    And this more plausible and facile wight
    With every point a-sparkle--chose the right,
    Admiring how his predecessors harped
    On the wrong man: "thus," quoth he, "wits are warped
    By outsides!" Carelessly, meanwhile, his life
    Suffered its many turns of peace and strife
    In many lands--you hardly could surprise
    The man; who shamed Sordello (recognize!)
    In this as much beside, that, unconcerned
    What qualities were natural or earned,
    With no ideal of graces, as they came
    He took them, singularly well the same--
    Speaking the Greek's own language, just because
    Your Greek eludes you, leave the least of flaws
    In contracts with him; while, since Arab lore
    Holds the stars' secret--take one trouble more
    And master it! 'Tis done, and now deter
    Who may the Tuscan, once Jove trined for her,
    From Friedrich's path!--Friedrich, whose pilgrimage
    The same man puts aside, whom he'll engage
    To leave next year John Brienne in the lurch,
    Come to Bassano, see Saint Francis' church
    And judge of Guido the Bolognian's piece
    Which, lend Taurello credit, rivals Greece--
    Angels, with aureoles like golden quoits
    Pitched home, applauding Ecelin's exploits.
    For elegance, he strung the angelot,
            [Sidenote: With the appropriate graces of such.]
    Made rhymes thereto; for prowess, clove he not
    Tiso, last siege, from crest to crupper? Why
    Detail you thus a varied mastery
    But to show how Taurello, on the watch
    For men, to read their hearts and thereby catch
    Their capabilities and purposes,
    Displayed himself so far as displayed these:
    While our Sordello only cared to know
    About men as a means whereby he'd show
    Himself, and men had much or little worth
    According as they kept in or drew forth
    That self; the other's choicest instruments
    Surmised him shallow.
                          Meantime, malcontents
    Dropped off, town after town grew wiser. "How
    Change the world's face?" asked people; "as 't is now
    It has been, will be ever: very fine
    Subjecting things profane to things divine,
    In talk! This contumacy will fatigue
    The vigilance of Este and the League!
    The Ghibellins gain on us!"--as it happed.
    Old Azzo and old Boniface, entrapped
    By Ponte Alto, both in one month's space
    Slept at Verona: either left a brace
    Of sons--but, three years after, either's pair
    Lost Guglielm and Aldobrand its heir:
    Azzo remained and Richard--all the stay
    Of Este and Saint Boniface, at bay
            [Sidenote: But Ecelin, he set in front, falling,]
    As 't were. Then, either Ecelin grew old
    Or his brain altered--not o' the proper mould
    For new appliances--his old palm-stock
    Endured no influx of strange strengths. He'd rock
    As in a drunkenness, or chuckle low
    As proud of the completeness of his woe,
    Then weep real tears;--now make some mad onslaught
    On Este, heedless of the lesson taught
    So painfully,--now cringe for peace, sue peace
    At price of past gain, bar of fresh increase
    To the fortunes of Romano. Up at last
    Rose Este, down Romano sank as fast.
    And men remarked these freaks of peace and war
    Happened while Salinguerra was afar:
    Whence every friend besought him, all in vain,
    To use his old adherent's wits again.
    Not he!--"who had advisers in his sons,
    Could plot himself, nor needed any one's
    Advice." 'T was Adelaide's remaining stanch
    Prevented his destruction root and branch
    Forthwith; but when she died, doom fell, for gay
    He made alliances, gave lands away
    To whom it pleased accept them, and withdrew
    Forever from the world. Taurello, who
    Was summoned to the convent, then refused
    A word at the wicket, patience thus abused,
    Promptly threw off alike his imbecile
    Ally's yoke, and his own frank, foolish smile.
    Soon a few movements of the happier sort
    Changed matters, put himself in men's report
    As heretofore; he had to fight, beside,
    And that became him ever. So, in pride
            [Sidenote: Salinguerra must again come forward,]
    And flushing of this kind of second youth,
    He dealt a good-will blow. Este in truth
    Lay prone--and men remembered, somewhat late,
    A laughing old outrageous stifled hate
    He bore to Este--how it would outbreak
    At times spite of disguise, like an earthquake
    In sunny weather--as that noted day
    When with his hundred friends he tried to slay
    Azzo before the Kaiser's face: and how,
    On Azzo's calm refusal to allow
    A liegeman's challenge, straight he too was calmed:
    As if his hate could bear to lie embalmed,
    Bricked up, the moody Pharaoh, and survive
    All intermediate crumblings, to arrive
    At earth's catastrophe--'t was Este's crash,
    Not Azzo's he demanded, so, no rash
    Procedure! Este's true antagonist
    Rose out of Ecelin: all voices whist,
    All eyes were sharpened, wits predicted. He
    'T was, leaned in the embrasure absently,
            [Sidenote: Why and how, is let out in soliloquy.]
    Amused with his own efforts, now, to trace
    With his steel-sheathed forefinger Friedrich's face
    I' the dust: but as the trees waved sere, his smile
    Deepened, and words expressed its thought erewhile.
    "Ay, fairly housed at last, my old compeer?
    That we should stick together, all the year
    I kept Vicenza!--How old Boniface,
    Old Azzo caught us in its market-place,
    He by that pillar, I at this,--caught each
    In mid swing, more than fury of his speech,
    Egging the rabble on to disavow
    Allegiance to their Marquis--Bacchus, how
    They boasted! Ecelin must turn their drudge,
    Nor, if released, will Salinguerra grudge
    Paying arrears of tribute due long since--
    Bacchus! My man could promise then, nor wince,
    The bones-and-muscles! Sound of wind and limb,
    Spoke he the set excuse I framed for him:
    And now he sits me, slavering and mute,
    Intent on chafing each starved purple foot
    Benumbed past aching with the altar slab--
    Will no vein throb there when some monk shall blab
    Spitefully to the circle of bald scalps,
            [Sidenote: Ecelin, he did all for, is a monk now,]
    'Friedrich's affirmed to be our side the Alps'
    --Eh, brother Lactance, brother Anaclet?
    Sworn to abjure the world, its fume and fret,
    God's own now? Drop the dormitory bar,
    Enfold the scanty gray serge scapular
    Twice o'er the cowl to muffle memories out!
    So! But the midnight whisper turns a shout,
    Eyes wink, mouths open, pulses circulate
    In the stone walls: the past, the world you hate
    Is with you, ambush, open field--or see
    The surging flame--we fire Vicenza--glee!
    Follow, let Pilio and Bernardo chafe!
    Bring up the Mantuans--through San Biagio--safe!
    Ah, the mad people waken? Ah, they writhe
    And reach us? If they block the gate? No tithe
    Can pass--keep back, you Bassanese! The edge,
    Use the edge--shear, thrust, hew, melt down the wedge,
    Let out the black of those black upturned eyes!
    Hell--are they sprinkling fire too? The blood fries
    And hisses on your brass gloves as they tear
    Those upturned faces choking with despair.
    Brave! Slidder through the reeking gate! 'How now?
    You six had charge of her?' And then the vow
    Comes, and the foam spirts, hair's plucked, till one shriek
    (I hear it) and you fling--you cannot speak--
    Your gold-flowered basnet to a man who haled
    The Adelaide he dared scarce view unveiled
    This morn, naked across the fire: how crown
    The archer that exhausted lays you down
    Your infant, smiling at the flame, and dies?
    While one, while mine ...
                              "Bacchus! I think there lies
    More than one corpse there" (and he paced the room)
    "--Another cinder somewhere: 't was my doom
    Beside, my doom! If Adelaide is dead,
    I live the same, this Azzo lives instead
    Of that to me, and we pull, any how,
    Este into a heap: the matter's now
            [Sidenote: Just when the prize awaits somebody;]
    At the true juncture slipping us so oft.
    Ay, Heinrich died and Otho, please you doffed
    His crown at such a juncture! Still, if holds
    Our Friedrich's purpose, if this chain enfolds
    The neck of ... who but this same Ecelin
    That must recoil when the best days begin!
    Recoil? that's naught; if the recoiler leaves
    His name for me to fight with, no one grieves:
    But he must interfere, forsooth, unlock
    His cloister to become my stumbling-block
    Just as of old! Ay, ay, there 't is again--
    The land's inevitable Head--explain
    The reverences that subject us! Count
    These Ecelins now! Not to say as fount,
    Originating power of thought,--from twelve
    That drop i' the trenches they joined hands to delve,
    Six shall surpass him, but ... why, men must twine
    Somehow with something! Ecelin's a fine
            [Sidenote: Himself, if it were only worth while,]
    Clear name! 'T were simpler, doubtless, twine with me
    At once our cloistered friend's capacity
    Was of a sort! I had to share myself
    In fifty portions, like an o'ertasked elf
    That's forced illume in fifty points the vast
    Rare vapor he's environed by. At last
    My strengths, though sorely frittered, e'en converge
    And crown ... no, Bacchus, they have yet to urge
    The man be crowned!
                        "That aloe, an he durst,
    Would climb! Just such a bloated sprawler first
    I noted in Messina's castle-court
    The day I came, when Heinrich asked in sport
    If I would pledge my faith to win him back
    His right in Lombardy: 'for, once bid pack
    Marauders,' he continued, 'in my stead
    You rule, Taurello!' and upon this head
    Laid the silk glove of Constance--I see her
    Too, mantled head to foot in miniver,
    Retrude following!
                       "I am absolved
    From further toil: the empery devolved
    On me, 't was Tito's word: I have to lay
    For once my plan, pursue my plan my way,
    Prompt nobody, and render an account
    Taurello to Taurello! Nay, I mount
    To Friedrich: he conceives the post I kept,
    --Who did true service, able or inept,
    Who's worthy guerdon, Ecelin or I.
    Me guerdoned, counsel follows: would he vie
    With the Pope really? Azzo, Boniface
    Compose a right-arm Hohenstauffen's race
    Must break ere govern Lombardy. I point
    How easy 't were to twist, once out of joint,
    The socket from the bone: my Azzo's stare
    Meanwhile! for I, this idle strap to wear,
    Shall--fret myself abundantly, what end
    To serve? There's left me twenty years to spend
            [Sidenote: As it may be--but also, as it may not be--]
    --How better than my old way? Had I one
    Who labored to o'erthrow my work--a son
    Hatching with Azzo superb treachery,
    To root my pines up and then poison me,
    Suppose--'t were worth while frustrate that! Beside,
    Another life's ordained me: the world's tide
    Rolls, and what hope of parting from the press
    Of waves, a single wave through weariness
    Gently lifted aside, laid upon shore?
    My life must be lived out in foam and roar,
    No question. Fifty years the province held
    Taurello; troubles raised, and troubles quelled,
    He in the midst--who leaves this quaint stone place,
    These trees a year or two, then not a trace
    Of him! How obtain hold, fetter men's tongues
    Like this poor minstrel with the foolish songs--
    To which, despite our bustle, he is linked?
    --Flowers one may tease, that never grow extinct.
    Ay, that patch, surely, green as ever, where
    I set Her Moorish lentisk, by the stair,
    To overawe the aloes; and we trod
    Those flowers, how call you such?--into the sod;
    A stately foreigner--a world of pain
    To make it thrive, arrest rough winds--all vain!
    It would decline; these would not he destroyed:
    And now, where is it? where can you avoid
    The flowers? I frighten children twenty years
    Longer!--which way, too, Ecelin appears
    To thwart me, for his son's besotted youth
    Gives promise of the proper tiger-tooth:
    They feel it at Vicenza! Fate, fate, fate,
    My fine Taurello! Go you, promulgate
    Friedrich's decree, and here 's shall aggrandize
    Young Ecelin--your Prefect's badge! a prize
            [Sidenote: The supposition he most inclines to;]
    Too precious, certainly.
                             "How now? Compete
    With my old comrade? shuffle from their seat
    His children? Paltry dealing! Don't I know
    Ecelin? now, I think, and years ago!
    What's changed--the weakness? did not I compound
    For that, and undertake to keep him sound
    Despite it? Here's Taurello hankering
    After a boy's preferment--this plaything
    To carry, Bacchus!" And he laughed.
    Why schemes wherein cold-blooded men embark
    Prosper, when your enthusiastic sort
    Fail: while these last are ever stopping short--
    (So much they should--so little they can do!)
    The careless tribe see nothing to pursue
    If they desist; meantime their scheme succeeds.
      Thoughts were caprices in the course of deeds
    Methodic with Taurello; so, he turned,
    Enough amused by fancies fairly earned
    Of Este's horror-struck submitted neck,
    And Richard, the cowed braggart, at his beck,
            [Sidenote: Being contented with mere vengeance.]
    To his own petty but immediate doubt
    If he could pacify the League without
    Conceding Richard; just to this was brought
    That interval of vain discursive thought!
    As, shall I say, some Ethiop, past pursuit
    Of all enslavers, dips a shackled foot
    Burnt to the blood, into the drowsy black
    Enormous watercourse which guides him back
    To his own tribe again, where he is king;
    And laughs because he guesses, numbering
    The yellower poison-wattles on the pouch
    Of the first lizard wrested from its couch
    Under the slime (whose skin, the while he strips
    To cure his nostril with, and festered lips,
    And eyeballs bloodshot through the desert-blast)
    That he has reached its boundary, at last
    May breathe;--thinks o'er enchantments of the South
    Sovereign to plague his enemies, their mouth,
    Eyes, nails, and hair; but, these enchantments tried
    In fancy, puts them soberly aside
    For truth, projects a cool return with friends,
    The likelihood of winning mere amends
    Ere long; thinks that, takes comfort silently,
    Then, from the river's brink, his wrongs and he,
    Hugging revenge close to their hearts, are soon
    Off-striding for the Mountains of the Moon.
      Midnight: the watcher nodded on his spear,
    Since clouds dispersing left a passage clear
    For any meagre and discolored moon
    To venture forth; and such was peering soon
    Above the harassed city--her close lanes
    Closer, not half so tapering her fanes,
    As though she shrunk into herself to keep
    What little life was saved, more safely. Heap
    By heap the watch-fires mouldered, and beside
    The blackest spoke Sordello and replied
    Palma with none to listen. "'T is your cause:
            [Sidenote: Sordello, taught what Ghibellins are,]
    What makes a Ghibellin? There should be laws--
    (Remember how my youth escaped! I trust
    To you for manhood, Palma; tell me just
    As any child)--there must be laws at work
    Explaining this. Assure me, good may lurk
    Under the bad,--my multitude has part
    In your designs, their welfare is at heart
    With Salinguerra, to their interest
    Refer the deeds he dwelt on,--so divest
    Our conference of much that scared me. Why
    Affect that heartless tone to Tito? I
    Esteemed myself, yes, in my inmost mind
    This morn, a recreant to my race--mankind
    O'erlooked till now: why boast my spirit's force,
    --Such force denied its object? why divorce
    These, then admire my spirit's flight the same
    As though it bore up, helped some half-orbed flame
    Else quenched in the dead void, to living space?
    That orb cast off to chaos and disgrace,
    Why vaunt so much my unencumbered dance,
    Making a feat's facilities enhance
    Its marvel? But I front Taurello, one
    Of happier fate, and all I should have done,
    He does; the people's good being paramount
    With him, their progress may perhaps account
    For his abiding still; whereas you heard
    The talk with Tito--the excuse preferred
    For burning those five hostages,--and broached
    By way of blind, as you and I approached,
    I do believe."
                   She spoke: then he, "My thought
    Plainlier expressed! All to your profit--naught
    Meantime of these, of conquests to achieve
    For them, of wretchedness he might relieve
            [Sidenote: And what Guelfs, approves of neither.]
    While profiting your party. Azzo, too,
    Supports a cause: what cause? Do Guelfs pursue
    Their ends by means like yours, or better?"
    The Guelfs were proved alike, men weighed with men,
    And deed with deed, blaze, blood, with blood and blaze,
    Morn broke: "Once more, Sordello, meet its gaze
    Proudly--the people's charge against thee fails
    In every point, while either party quails!
    These are the busy ones: be silent thou!
    Two parties take the world up, and allow
    No third, yet have one principle, subsist
    By the same injustice; whoso shall enlist
    With either, ranks with man's inveterate foes.
    So there is one less quarrel to compose:
    The Guelf, the Ghibellin may be to curse--
    I have done nothing, but both sides do worse
    Than nothing. Nay, to me, forgotten, reft
    Of insight, lapped by trees and flowers, was left
    The notion of a service--ha? What lured
    Me here, what mighty aim was I assured
    Must move Taurello? What if there remained
            [Sidenote: Have men a cause distinct from both?]
    A cause, intact, distinct from these, ordained
    For me, its true discoverer?"
                                  Some one pressed
    Before them here, a watcher, to suggest
    The subject for a ballad: "They must know
    The tale of the dead worthy, long ago
    Consul of Rome--that 's long ago for us,
    Minstrels and bowmen, idly squabbling thus
    In the world's corner--but too late no doubt,
    For the brave time he sought to bring about.
            [Sidenote: Who was the famed Roman Crescentius?]
    --Not know Crescentius Nomentanus?" Then
    He cast about for terms to tell him, when
    Sordello disavowed it, how they used
    Whenever their Superior introduced
    A novice to the Brotherhood--("for I
    Was just a brown-sleeve brother, merrily
    Appointed too," quoth he, "till Innocent
    Bade me relinquish, to my small content,
    My wife or my brown sleeves")--some brother spoke
    Ere nocturns of Crescentius, to revoke
    The edict issued, after his demise,
    Which blotted fame alike and effigies,
    All out except a floating power, a name
    Including, tending to produce the same
    Great act. Rome, dead, forgotten, lived at least
    Within that brain, though to a vulgar priest
    And a vile stranger,--two not worth a slave
    Of Rome's, Pope John, King Otho,--fortune gave
    The rule there: so, Crescentius, haply dressed
    In white, called Roman Consul for a jest,
    Taking the people at their word, forth stepped
    As upon Brutus' heel, nor ever kept
    Rome waiting,--stood erect, and from his brain
    Gave Rome out on its ancient place again,
    Ay, bade proceed with Brutus' Rome, Kings styled
    Themselves mere citizens of, and, beguiled
    Into great thoughts thereby, would choose the gem
    Out of a lapfull, spoil their diadem
    --The Senate's cypher was so hard to scratch!
    He flashes like a phanal, all men catch
    The flame, Rome 's just accomplished! when returned
    Otho, with John, the Consul's step had spurned,
    And Hugo Lord of Este, to redress
    The wrongs of each. Crescentius in the stress
    Of adverse fortune bent. "They crucified
    Their Consul in the Forum; and abide
    E'er since such slaves at Rome, that I--(for I
    Was once a brown-sleeve brother, merrily
    Appointed)--I had option to keep wife
    Or keep brown sleeves, and managed in the strife
    Lose both. A song of Rome!"
                                And Rome, indeed,
    Robed at Goito in fantastic weed,
    The Mother-City of his Mantuan days,
    Looked an established point of light whence rays
    Traversed the world; for, all the clustered homes
    Beside of men, seemed bent on being Romes
    In their degree; the question was, how each
    Should most resemble Rome, clean out of reach.
            [Sidenote: How if, in the reintegration of Rome,]
    Nor, of the Two, did either principle
    Struggle to change--but to possess--Rome, still,
    Guelf Rome or Ghibellin Rome.
                                  Let Rome advance!
    Rome, as she struck Sordello's ignorance--
    How could he doubt one moment? Rome 's the Cause!
    Rome of the Pandects, all the world's new laws--
    Of the Capitol, of Castle Angelo;
    New structures, that inordinately glow,
    Subdued, brought back to harmony, made ripe
    By many a relic of the archetype
    Extant for wonder; every upstart church
    That hoped to leave old temples in the lurch,
    Corrected by the Theatre forlorn
    That,--as a mundane shell, its world late born,--
    Lay and o'ershadowed it. These hints combined,
    [Sidenote: Be typified the triumph of mankind?]
    Rome typifies the scheme to put mankind
    Once more in full possession of their rights.
    "Let us have Rome again! On me it lights
    To build up Rome--on me, the first and last:
    For such a future was endured the past!"
    And thus, in the gray twilight, forth he sprung
    To give his thought consistency among
    The very People--let their facts avail
    Finish the dream grown from the archer's tale.


    Is it the same Sordello in the dusk
    As at the dawn?--merely a perished husk
    Now, that arose a power fit to build
            [Sidenote: Mankind triumph of a sudden?]
    Up Rome again? The proud conception chilled
    So soon? Ay, watch that latest dream of thine--A
    Rome indebted to no Palatine--
    Drop arch by arch, Sordello! Art possessed
    Of thy wish now, rewarded for thy quest
    To-day among Ferrara's squalid sons?
    Are this and this and this the shining ones
    Meet for the Shining City? Sooth to say,
    Your favored tenantry pursue their way
    After a fashion! This companion slips
    On the smooth causey, t' other blinkard trips
    At his mooned sandal. "Leave to lead the brawls
    Here i' the atria?" No, friend! He that sprawls
    On aught but a stibadium ... what his dues
    Who puts the lustral vase to such an use?
    Oh, huddle up the day's disasters! March,
    Ye runagates, and drop thou, arch by arch,
           Yet before they quite disband--a whim--
    Study mere shelter, now, for him, and him,
    Nay, even the worst,--just house them! Any cave
    Suffices: throw out earth! A loophole? Brave!
    They ask to feel the sun shine, see the grass
    Grow, hear the larks sing? Dead art thou, alas,
    And I am dead! But here's our son excels
    At hurdle-weaving any Scythian, fells
    Oak and devises rafters, dreams and shapes
    His dream into a door-post, just escapes
    The mystery of hinges. Lie we both
    Perdue another age. The goodly growth
    Of brick and stone! Our building-pelt was rough,
    But that descendant's garb suits well enough
    A portico-contriver. Speed the years--
            [Sidenote: Why, the work should be one of ages,]
    What's time to us? At last, a city rears
    Itself! nay, enter--what's the grave to us?
    Lo, our forlorn acquaintance carry thus
    The head! Successively sewer, forum, cirque--
    Last age, an aqueduct was counted work,
    But now they tire the artificer upon
    Blank alabaster, black obsidion,
    --Careful, Jove's face be duly fulgurant,
    And mother Venus' kiss-creased nipples pant
    Back into pristine pulpiness, ere fixed
    Above the baths. What difference betwixt
    This Rome and ours--resemblance what, between
    That scurvy dumb-show and this pageant sheen--
    These Romans and our rabble? Use thy wit!
    The work marched: step by step,--a workman fit
    Took each, nor too fit,--to one task, one time,--
    No leaping o'er the petty to the prime,
            [Sidenote: If performed equally and thoroughly;]
    When just the substituting osier lithe
    For brittle bulrush, sound wood for soft withe,
    To further loam-and-roughcast-work a stage,--
    Exacts an architect, exacts an age:
    No tables of the Mauritanian tree
    For men whose maple log 's their luxury!
    That way was Rome built. "Better" (say you) "merge
    At once all workmen in the demiurge,
    All epochs in a lifetime, every task
    In one!" So should the sudden city bask
    I' the day--while those we'd feast there, want the knack
    Of keeping fresh-chalked gowns from speck and brack,
    Distinguish not rare peacock from vile swan,
    Nor Mareotic juice from Cæcuban.
    "Enough of Rome! 'T was happy to conceive
    Rome on a sudden, nor shall fate bereave
    Me of that credit: for the rest, her spite
    Is an old story--serves my folly right
    By adding yet another to the dull
    List of abortions--things proved beautiful
    Could they be done, Sordello cannot do."
      He sat upon the terrace, plucked and threw
    The powdery aloe-cusps away, saw shift
    Rome's walls, and drop arch after arch, and drift
    Mist-like afar those pillars of all stripe,
    Mounds of all majesty. "Thou archetype,
    Last of my dreams and loveliest, depart!"
      And then a low voice wound into his heart:
    "Sordello!" (low as some old Pythoness
    Conceding to a Lydian King's distress
    The cause of his long error--one mistake
    Of her past oracle) "Sordello, wake!
    God has conceded two sights to a man--
            [Sidenote: And a man can do but a man's portion.]
    One, of men's whole work, time's completed plan,
    The other, of the minute's work, man's first
    Step to the plan's completeness: what's dispersed
    Save hope of that supreme step which, descried
    Earliest, was meant still to remain untried
    Only to give you heart to take your own
    Step, and there stay--leaving the rest alone?
    Where is the vanity? Why count as one
    The first step, with the last step? What is gone
    Except Rome's aëry magnificence,
    That last step you'd take first?--an evidence
    You were God: be man now! Let those glances fall!
    The basis, the beginning step of all,
    Which proves you just a man--is that gone too?
    Pity to disconcert one versed as you
    In fate's ill-nature! but its full extent
    Eludes Sordello, even: the veil rent,
    Read the black writing--that collective man
    Outstrips the individual! Who began
            [Sidenote: The last of each series of workmen]
    The acknowledged greatnesses? Ay, your own art
    Shall serve us: put the poet's mimes apart--
    Close with the poet's self, and lo, a dim
    Yet too plain form divides itself from him!
    Alcamo's song enmeshes the lulled Isle,
    Woven into the echoes left erewhile
    By Nina, one soft web of song: no more
    Turning his name, then, flower-like o'er and o'er!
    An elder poet in the younger's place;
    Nina's the strength, but Alcamo's the grace:
    Each neutralizes each then! Search your fill;
    You get no whole and perfect Poet--still
    New Ninas, Alcamos, till time's midnight
    Shrouds all--or better say, the shutting light
    Of a forgotten yesterday. Dissect
    Every ideal workman--(to reject
    In favor of your fearful ignorance
    The thousand phantasms eager to advance,
            [Sidenote: Sums up in himself all predecessors.]
    And point you but to those within your reach)--
    Were you the first who brought--(in modern speech)
    The Multitude to be materialized?
    That loose eternal unrest--who devised
    An apparition i' the midst? The rout
    Was cheeked, a breathless ring was formed about
    That sudden flower: get round at any risk
    The gold-rough pointel, silver-blazing disk
    O' the lily! Swords across it! Reign thy reign
            [Sidenote: We just see Charlemagne, Hildebrand,]
    And serve thy frolic service, Charlemagne!
    --The very child of over-joyousness,
    Unfeeling thence, strong therefore: Strength by stress
    Of Strength comes of that forehead confident,
    Those widened eyes expecting heart's content,
    A calm as out of just-quelled noise; nor swerves
    For doubt, the ample cheek in gracious curves
    Abutting on the upthrust nether lip:
    He wills, how should he doubt then? Ages slip:
    Was it Sordello pried into the work
    So far accomplished, and discovered lurk
    A company amid the other clans,
    Only distinct in priests for castellans
    And popes for suzerains (their rule confessed
    Its rule, their interest its interest,
    Living for sake of living--there an end,--
    Wrapt in itself, no energy to spend
    In making adversaries or allies),--
    Dived you into its capabilities
    And dared create, out of that sect, a soul
    Should turn a multitude, already whole,
    Into its body? Speak plainer! Is 't so sure
    God's church lives by a King's investiture?
    Look to last step! A staggering--a shock--
    What's mere sand is demolished, while the rock
    Endures: a column of black fiery dust
    Blots heaven--that help was prematurely thrust
    Aside, perchance!--but air clears, naught's erased
    Of the true outline! Thus much being firm based,
    The other was a scaffold. See him stand
    Buttressed upon his mattock, Hildebrand
    Of the huge brain-mask welded ply o'er ply
    As in a forge; it buries either eye
    White and extinct, that stupid brow; teeth clenched,
    The neck tight-corded, too, the chin deep-trenched,
    As if a cloud enveloped him while fought
    Under its shade, grim prizers, thought with thought
    At dead-lock, agonizing he, until
    The victor thought leap radiant up, and Will,
    The slave with folded arms and drooping lids
    They fought for, lean forth flame-like as it bids.
    Call him no flower--a mandrake of the earth,
    Thwarted and dwarfed and blasted in its birth,
    Rather,--a fruit of suffering's excess,
    Thence feeling, therefore stronger: still by stress
    Of Strength, work Knowledge! Full three hundred years
    Have men to wear away in smiles and tears
    Between the two that nearly seemed to touch,
            [Sidenote: In composite work they end and name.]
    Observe you! quit one workman and you clutch
    Another, letting both their trains go by--
    The actors-out of either's policy,
    Heinrich, on this hand, Otho, Barbaross,
    Carry the three Imperial crowns across,
    Aix' Iron, Milan's Silver, and Rome's Gold--
    While Alexander, Innocent uphold
    On that, each Papal key--but, link on link,
    Why is it neither chain betrays a chink?
    How coalesce the small and great? Alack,
    For one thrust forward, fifty such fall back!
    Do the popes coupled there help Gregory
    Alone? Hark--from the hermit Peter's cry
    At Claremont, down to the first serf that says
    Friedrich 's no liege of his while he delays
    Getting the Pope's curse off him! The Crusade--
    Or trick of breeding Strength by other aid
    Than Strength, is safe. Hark--from the wild harangue
    Of Vimmercato, to the carroch's clang
    Yonder! The League--or trick of turning Strength
    Against Pernicious Strength, is safe at length.
    Yet hark--from Mantuan Albert making cease
    The fierce ones, to Saint Francis preaching peace
    Yonder! God's Truce--or trick to supersede
    The very Use of Strength, is safe. Indeed
    We trench upon the future. Who is found
    To take next step, next age--trail o'er the ground--
    Shall I say, gourd-like?--not the flower's display
    Nor the root's prowess, but the plenteous way
    O' the plant--produced by joy and sorrow, whence
    Unfeeling and yet feeling, strongest thence?
    Knowledge by stress of merely Knowledge? No--
    E'en were Sordello ready to forego
    His life for this, 't were overleaping work
    Some one has first to do, howe'er it irk,
    Nor stray a foot's breadth from the beaten road.
    Who means to help must still support the load
    Hildebrand lifted--'why hast Thou,' he groaned,
    'Imposed on me a burden, Paul had moaned,
    And Moses dropped beneath?' Much done--and yet
    Doubtless that grandest task God ever set
    On man, left much to do: at his arm's wrench,
    Charlemagne's scaffold fell; but pillars blench
    Merely, start back again--perchance have been
    Taken for buttresses: crash every screen,
    Hammer the tenons better, and engage
    A gang about your work, for the next age
    Or two, of Knowledge, part by Strength and part
    By Knowledge! Then, indeed, perchance may start
    Sordello on his race--would time divulge
    Such secrets! If one step's awry, one bulge
    Calls for correction by a step we thought
    Got over long since, why, till that is wrought,
    No progress! And the scaffold in its turn
    Becomes, its service o'er, a thing to spurn.
    Meanwhile, if your half-dozen years of life
    In store dispose you to forego the strife,
    Who takes exception? Only bear in mind,
    Ferrara's reached, Goito 's left behind:
            [Sidenote: If associates trouble you, stand off!]
    As you then were, as half yourself, desist!
    --The warrior-part of you may, an it list,
    Finding real falchions difficult to poise,
    Fling them afar and taste the cream of joys
    By wielding such in fancy,--what is bard
    Of you may spurn the vehicle that marred
    Elys so much, and in free fancy glut
    His sense, yet write no verses--you have but
    To please yourself for law, and once could please
    What once appeared yourself, by dreaming these
    Rather than doing these, in days gone by.
    But all is changed the moment you descry
    Mankind as half yourself,--then, fancy's trade
    Ends once and always: how may half evade
    The other half? men are found half of you.
    Out of a thousand helps, just one or two
    Can be accomplished presently: but flinch
    From these (as from the falchion, raised an inch,
    Elys, described a couplet) and make proof
    Of fancy,--then, while one half lolls aloof
    I' the vines, completing Rome to the tip-top--
    See if, for that, your other half will stop
            [Sidenote: Should the new sympathies allow you.]
    A tear, begin a smile! The rabble's woes,
    Ludicrous in their patience as they chose
    To sit about their town and quietly
    Be slaughtered,--the poor reckless soldiery,
    With their ignoble rhymes on Richard, how
    'Polt-foot,' sang they, 'was in a pitfall now,'
    Cheering each other from the engine-mounts,--
    That crippled sprawling idiot who recounts
    How, lopped of limbs, he lay, stupid as stone,
    Till the pains crept from out him one by one,
    And wriggles round the archers on his head
    To earn a morsel of their chestnut bread,--
    And Cino, always in the self-same place
    Weeping; beside that other wretch's case,
    Eyepits to ear, one gangrene since he plied
    The engine in his coat of raw sheep's hide
    A double watch in the noon sun; and see
    Lucchino, beauty, with the favors free,
    Trim hacqueton, spruce heard and scented hair,
    Campaigning it for the first time--cut there
    In two already, boy enough to crawl
    For latter orpine round the southern wall,
    Tomà, where Richard's kept, because that whore
    Marfisa, the fool never saw before,
    Sickened for flowers this wearisomest siege:
    And Tiso's wife--men liked their pretty liege,
    Cared for her least of whims once,--Berta, wed
    A twelvemonth gone, and, now poor Tiso's dead,
    Delivering herself of his first child
    On that chance heap of wet filth, reconciled
    To fifty gazers!"--(Here a wind below
    Made moody music augural of woe
    From the pine barrier)--"What if, now the scene
    Draws to a close, yourself have really been
            [Sidenote: Time having been lost, choose quick!]
    --You, plucking purples in Goito's moss
    Like edges of a trabea (not to cross
    Your consul-humor) or dry aloe-shafts
    For fasces, at Ferrara--he, fate wafts,
    This very age, her whole inheritance
    Of opportunities? Yet you advance
    Upon the last! Since talking is your trade,
    There 's Salinguerra left you to persuade:
    Fail! then"--
                  "No--no--which latest chance secure!"
    Leaped up and cried Sordello: "this made sure,
    The past were yet redeemable; its work
    Was--help the Guelfs, whom I, howe'er it irk,
    Thus help!" He shook the foolish aloe-haulm
            [Sidenote: He takes his first step as a Guelf;]
    Out of his doublet, paused, proceded calm
    To the appointed presence. The large head
    Turned on its socket; "And your spokesman," said
    The large voice, "is Elcorte's happy sprout?
    Few such"--(so finishing a speech no doubt
    Addressed to Palma, silent at his side)
    "--My sober councils have diversified.
    Elcorte's son! good: forward as you may,
    Our lady's minstrel with so much to say!"
    The hesitating sunset floated back,
    Rosily traversed in the wonted track
    The chamber, from the lattice o'er the girth
    Of pines, to the huge eagle blacked in earth
    Opposite,--outlined sudden, spur to crest,
    That solid Salinguerra, and caressed
    Palma's contour; 't was day looped back night's pall;
    Sordello had a chance left spite of all.
      And much he made of the convincing speech
    Meant to compensate for the past and reach
    Through his youth's daybreak of unprofit, quite
    To his noon's labor, so proceed till night
    Leisurely! The great argument to bind
    Taurello with the Guelf Cause, body and mind,
    --Came the consummate rhetoric to that?
    Yet most Sordello's argument dropped flat
    Through his accustomed fault of breaking yoke,
    Disjoining him who felt from him who spoke.
    Was 't not a touching incident--so prompt
    A rendering the world its just accompt,
    Once proved its debtor? Who'd suppose, before
    This proof, that he, Goito's god of yore,
    At duty's instance could demean himself
    So memorably, dwindle to a Guelf?
    Be sure, in such delicious flattery steeped,
    His inmost self at the out-portion peeped,
    Thus occupied; then stole a glance at those
    Appealed to, curious if her color rose
    Or his lip moved, while he discreetly urged
    The need of Lombardy becoming purged
    At soonest of her barons; the poor part
    Abandoned thus, missing the blood at heart
    And spirit in brain, unseasonably off
    Elsewhere! But, though his speech was worthy scoff,
    Good-humored Salinguerra, famed for tact
    And tongue, who, careless of his phrase, ne'er lacked
    The right phrase, and harangued Honorius dumb
    At his accession,--looked as all fell plumb
    To purpose and himself found interest
    In every point his new instructor pressed
    --Left playing with the rescript's white wax seal
    To scrutinize Sordello head and heel.
    He means to yield assent sure? No, alas!
    All he replied was, "What, it comes to pass
    That poesy, sooner than politics,
    Makes fade young hair?" To think such speech could fix
              Then a flash of bitter truth:
    So fantasies could break and fritter youth
    That he had long ago lost earnestness,
    Lost will to work, lost power to express
            [Sidenote: But to will and to do are different:]
    The need of working! Earth was turned a grave:
    No more occasions now, though he should crave
    Just one, in right of superhuman toil,
    To do what was undone, repair such spoil,
    Alter the past--nothing would give the chance!
    Not that he was to die; he saw askance
    Protract the ignominious years beyond
    To dream in--time to hope and time despond,
    Remember and forget, be sad, rejoice
    As saved a trouble; he might, at his choice,
    One way or other, idle life out, drop
            [Sidenote: He may sleep on the bed he has made.]
    No few smooth verses by the way--for prop,
    A thyrsus, these sad people, all the same,
    Should pick up, and set store by,--far from blame,
    Plant o'er his hearse, convinced his better part
    Survived him. "Rather tear men out the heart
    O' the truth!"--Sordello muttered, and renewed
    His propositions for the Multitude.
      But Salinguerra, who at this attack
    Had thrown great breast and ruffling corselet back
    To hear the better, smilingly resumed
    His task; beneath, the carroch's warning boomed;
    He must decide with Tito; courteously
    He turned then, even seeming to agree
    With his admonisher--"Assist the Pope,
    Extend Guelf domination, fill the scope
    O' the Church, thus based on All, by All, for All--
    Change Secular to Evangelical"--
    Echoing his very sentence: all seemed lost,
    When suddenly he looked up, laughingly almost,
    To Palma: "This opinion of your friend's--
    For instance, would it answer Palma's ends?
    Best, were it not, turn Guelf, submit our Strength"--
    (Here he drew out his baldric to its length)
    --"To the Pope's Knowledge--let our captive slip,
    Wide to the walls throw ope our gates, equip
    Azzo with ... what I hold here! Who'll subscribe
    To a trite censure of the minstrel tribe
    Henceforward? or pronounce, as Heinrich used,
    'Spear-heads for battle, burr-heads for the joust!'
    --When Constance, for his couplets, would promote
    Alcamo, from a parti-colored coat,
    To holding her lord's stirrup in the wars.
    Not that I see where couplet-making jars
    With common sense: at Mantua I had borne
    This chanted, better than their most forlorn
    Of bull-baits,--that's indisputable!"
    Whom vanity nigh slew, contempt shall save!
    All's at an end: a Troubadour suppose
    Mankind will class him with their friends or foes?
            [Sidenote: Scorn flings cold water in his face,]
    A puny uncouth ailing vassal think
    The world and him bound in some special link?
    Abrupt the visionary tether burst.
    What were rewarded here, or what amerced
    If a poor drudge, solicitous to dream
    Deservingly, got tangled by his theme
    So far as to conceit the knack or gift
    Or whatsoe'er it be, of verse, might lift
    The globe, a lever like the hand and head
    Of--"Men of Action," as the Jongleurs said,
    --"The Great Men," in the people's dialect?
      And not a moment did this scorn affect
            [Sidenote: Arouses him at last, to some purpose,]
    Sordello: scorn the poet? They, for once,
    Asking "what was," obtained a full response.
    Bid Naddo think at Mantua, he had but
    To look into his promptuary, put
    Finger on a set thought in a set speech:
    But was Sordello fitted thus for each
    Conjecture? Nowise; since within his soul,
    Perception brooded unexpressed and whole.
    A healthy spirit like a healthy frame
    Craves aliment in plenty--all the same,
    Changes, assimilates its aliment.
    Perceived Sordello, on a truth intent?
    Next day no formularies more you saw
    Than figs or olives in a sated maw.
    'T is Knowledge, whither such perceptions tend;
    They lose themselves in that, means to an end,
    The many old producing some one new,
    A last unlike the first. If lies are true,
    The Caliph's wheel-work man of brass receives
    A meal, munched millet grains and lettuce leaves
    Together in his stomach rattle loose;
    You find them perfect next day to produce:
    But ne'er expect the man, on strength of that,
    Can roll an iron camel-collar flat
    Like Haroun's self! I tell you, what was stored
            [Sidenote: And thus gets the utmost out of him.]
    Bit by bit through Sordello's life, outpoured
    That eve, was, for that age, a novel thing:
    And round those three the People formed a ring,
    Of visionary judges whose award
    He recognized in full--faces that barred
    Henceforth return to the old careless life,
    In whose great presence, therefore, his first strife
    For their sake must not be ignobly fought;
    All these, for once, approved of him, he thought,
    Suspended their own vengeance, chose await
    The issue of this strife to reinstate
    Them in the right of taking it--in fact
    He must be proved king ere they could exact
    Vengeance for such king's defalcation. Last,
    A reason why the phrases flowed so fast
    Was in his quite forgetting for a time
    Himself in his amazement that the rhyme
    Disguised the royalty so much: he there--
    And Salinguerra yet all unaware
    Who was the lord, who liegeman!
                                    "Thus I lay
    On thine my spirit and compel obey
    His lord,--my liegeman,--impotent to build
    Another Rome, but hardly so unskilled
    In what such builder should have been, as brook
    One shame beyond the charge that I forsook
    His function! Free me from that shame, I bend
    A brow before, suppose new years to spend,--
    Allow each chance, nor fruitlessly, recur--
    Measure thee with the Minstrel, then, demur
            [Sidenote: He asserts the poet's rank and right,]
    At any crowd he claims! That I must cede
    Shamed now, my right to my especial meed--
    Confess thee fitter help the world than I
    Ordained its champion from eternity,
    Is much: but to behold thee scorn the post
    I quit in thy behalf--to hear thee boast
    What makes my own despair!" And while he rung
    The changes on this theme, the roof up-sprung,
    The sad walls of the presence-chamber died
    Into the distance, or embowering vied
    With far-away Goito's vine-frontier;
    And crowds of faces--(only keeping clear
    The rose-light in the midst, his vantage-ground
    To fight their battle from)--deep clustered round
    Sordello, with good wishes no mere breath,
    Kind prayers for him no vapor, since, come death,
    Come life, he was fresh-sinewed every joint,
    Each bone new-marrowed as whom gods anoint
    Though mortal to their rescue. Now let sprawl
    The snaky volumes hither! Is Typhon all
    For Hercules to trample--good report
    From Salinguerra only to extort?
    "So was I" (closed he his inculcating,
    A poet must be earth's essential king)
            [Sidenote: Basing these on their proper ground,]
    "So was I, royal so, and if I fail,
    'T is not the royalty, ye witness quail,
    But one deposed who, caring not exert
    Its proper essence, trifled malapert
    With accidents instead--good things assigned
    As heralds of a better thing behind--
    And, worthy through display of these, put forth
    Never the inmost all-surpassing worth
    That constitutes him king precisely since
    As yet no other spirit may evince
    Its like: the power he took most pride to test,
    Whereby all forms of life had been professed
    At pleasure, forms already on the earth,
    Was but a means to power beyond, whose birth
    Should, in its novelty, be kingship's proof.
    Now, whether he came near or kept aloof
    The several forms he longed to imitate,
    Not there the kingship lay, he sees too late.
    Those forms, unalterable first as last,
    Proved him her copier, not the protoplast
    Of nature: what would come of being free,
    By action to exhibit tree for tree,
    Bird, beast, for beast and bird, or prove earth bore
    One veritable man or woman more?
    Means to an end, such proofs are: what the end?
    Let essence, whatsoe'er it be, extend--
    Never contract. Already you include
    The multitude; then let the multitude
    Include yourself; and the result were new:
    Themselves before, the multitude turn you.
    This were to live and move and have, in them,
    Your being, and secure a diadem
    You should transmit (because no cycle yearns
    Beyond itself, but on itself returns)
    When, the full sphere in wane, the world o'erlaid
    Long since with you, shall have in turn obeyed
    Some orb still prouder, some displayer, still
    More potent than the last, of human will,
            [Sidenote: Recognizing true dignity in service,]
    And some new king depose the old. Of such
    Am I--whom pride of this elates too much?
    Safe, rather say, 'mid troops of peers again;
    I, with my words, hailed brother of the train
    Deeds once sufficed: for, let the world roll back,
    Who fails, through deeds howe'er diverse, re-track
    My purpose still, my task? A teeming crust--
    Air, flame, earth, wave at conflict! Then, needs must
    Emerge some Calm embodied, these refer
    The brawl to--yellow-bearded Jupiter?
    No! Saturn; some existence like a pact
    And protest against Chaos, some first fact
    I' the faint of time. My deep of life, I know,
    Is unavailing e'en to poorly show" ...
    For here the Chief immeasurably yawned)
    ... "Deeds in their due gradation till Song dawned--
    The fullest effluence of the finest mind,
    All in degree, no way diverse in kind
    From minds about it, minds which, more or less,
    Lofty or low, move seeking to impress
            [Sidenote: Whether successively that of epoist,]
    Themselves on somewhat; but one mind has climbed
    Step after step, by just ascent sublimed.
    Thought is the soul of act, and, stage by stage,
    Soul is from body still to disengage
    As tending to a freedom which rejects
    Such help and incorporeally affects
    The world, producing deeds but not by deeds,
    Swaying, in others, frames itself exceeds,
    Assigning them the simpler tasks it used
    To patiently perform till Song produced
    Acts, by thoughts only, for the mind: divest
    Mind of e'en Thought, and, lo, God's unexpressed
    Will draws above us! All then is to win
    Save that. How much for me, then? where begin
    My work? About me, faces! and they flock,
    The earnest faces. What shall I unlock
    By song? behold me prompt, whate'er it be,
    To minister: how much can mortals see
    Of Life? No more than so? I take the task
    And marshal you Life's elemental masque,
    Show Men, on evil or on good lay stress,
            [Sidenote: Dramatist, or, so to call him, analyst,]
    This light, this shade make prominent, suppress
    All ordinary hues that softening blend
    Such natures with the level. Apprehend
    Which sinner is, which saint, if I allot
    Hell, Purgatory, Heaven, a blaze or blot,
    To those you doubt concerning! I enwomb
    Some wretched Friedrich with his red-hot tomb;
    Some dubious spirit, Lombard Agilulph
    With the black chastening river I engulf!
    Some unapproached Matilda I enshrine
    With languors of the planet of decline--
    These, fail to recognize, to arbitrate
    Between henceforth, to rightly estimate
    Thus marshalled in the masque! Myself, the while,
    As one of you, am witness, shrink or smile
    At my own showing! Next age--what's to do?
    The men and women stationed hitherto
    Will I unstation, good and bad, conduct
    Each nature to its farthest, or obstruct
    At soonest, in the world: light, thwarted, breaks
    A limpid purity to rainbow flakes,
    Or shadow, massed, freezes to gloom: behold
    How such, with fit assistance to unfold,
    Or obstacles to crush them, disengage
    Their forms, love, hate, hope, fear, peace make, war wage,
    In presence of you all! Myself, implied
    Superior now, as, by the platform's side,
    I bade them do and suffer,--would last content
    The world ... no--that's too far! I circumvent
    A few, my masque contented, and to these
    Offer unveil the last of mysteries--
    Man's inmost life shall have yet freer play:
    Once more I cast external things away,
    And natures composite, so decompose
    That" ... Why, he writes _Sordello!_
                                         "How I rose,
    And how have you advanced! since evermore
    Yourselves effect what I was fain before
    Effect, what I supplied yourselves suggest,
    What I leave bare yourselves can now invest.
    How we attain to talk as brothers talk,
    In half-words, call things by half-names, no balk
    From discontinuing old aids. To-day
    Takes in account the work of Yesterday:
    Has not the world a Past now, its adept
    Consults ere he dispense with or accept
    New aids? a single touch more may enhance,
    A touch less turned to insignificance
    Those structures' symmetry the past has strewed
    The world with, once so bare. Leave the mere rude
            [Sidenote: Who turns in due course synthetist.]
    Explicit details! 't is but brother's speech,
    We need, speech where an accent's change gives each
    The other's soul--no speech to understand
    By former audience: need was then to expand,
    Expatiate--hardly were we brothers! true--
    Nor I lament my small remove from you,
    Nor reconstruct what stands already. Ends
    Accomplished turn to means: my art intends
    New structure from the ancient: as they changed
    The spoils of every clime at Venice, ranged
    The horned and snouted Libyan god, upright
    As in his desert, by some simple bright
    Clay cinerary pitcher--Thebes as Rome,
    Athens as Byzant rifled, till their Dome
    From earth's reputed consummations razed
    A seal, the all-transmuting Triad blazed
    Above. Ah, whose that fortune? Ne'ertheless
    E'en he must stoop contented to express
    No tithe of what's to say--the vehicle
    Never sufficient: but his work is still
    For faces like the faces that select
            [Sidenote: This for one day: now, serve as Guelf!]
    The single service I am bound effect,--
    That bid me cast aside such fancies, bow
    Taurello to the Guelf cause, disallow
    The Kaiser's coming--which with heart, soul, strength,
    I labor for, this eve, who feel at length
    My past career's outrageous vanity,
    And would, as it amends, die, even die
    Now I first estimate the boon of life,
    If death might win compliance--sure, this strife
    Is right for once--the People my support."
      My poor Sordello! what may we extort
    By this, I wonder? Palma's lighted eyes
    Turned to Taurello who, long past surprise,
    Began, "You love him--what you'd say at large
    Let me say briefly. First, your father's charge
    To me, his friend, peruse: I guessed indeed
    You were no stranger to the course decreed.
            [Sidenote: Salinguerra, dislodged from his post,]
    He bids me leave his children to the saints:
    As for a certain project, he acquaints
    The Pope with that, and offers him the best
    Of your possessions to permit the rest
    Go peaceably--to Ecelin, a stripe
    Of soil the cursed Vicentines will gripe,
    --To Alberic, a patch the Trevisan
    Clutches already; extricate, who can,
    Treville, Villarazzi, Puissolo,
    Loria and Cartiglione!--all must go,
    And with them go my hopes. 'T is lost, then! Lost
    This eve, our crisis, and some pains it cost
    Procuring; thirty years--as good I'd spent
    Like our admonisher! But each his bent
    Pursues: no question, one might live absurd
    One's self this while, by deed as he by word
    Persisting to obtrude an influence where
    'T is made account of, much as ... nay, you fare
    With twice the fortune, youngster!--I submit,
    Happy to parallel my waste of wit
    With the renowned Sordello's: you decide
    A course for me. Romano may abide
    Romano,--Bacchus! After all, what dearth
    Of Ecelins and Alberies on earth?
    Say there's a prize in prospect, must disgrace
    Betide competitors, unless they style
    Themselves Romano? Were it worth my while
    To try my own luck! But an obscure place
    Suits me--there wants a youth to bustle, stalk
    And attitudinize--some fight, more talk,
    Most flaunting badges--how, I might make clear
    Since Friedrich's very purposes lie here
    --Here, pity they are like to lie! For me,
    With station fixed unceremoniously
    Long since, small use contesting; I am but
    The liegeman--you are born the lieges--shut
    That gentle mouth now! or resume your kin
    In your sweet self; were Palma Ecelin
    For me to work with! Could that neck endure
    This bauble for a cumbrous garniture,
    She should ... or might one bear it for her? Stay--
    I have not been so flattered many a day
    As by your pale friend--Bacchus! The least help
    Would lick the hind's fawn to a lion's whelp:
    His neck is broad enough--a ready tongue
    Beside--too writhled--but, the main thing, young--
    I could ... why, look ye!"
                               And the badge was thrown
            [Sidenote: In moving, opens a door to Sordello,]
    Across Sordello's neck: This badge alone
    Makes you Romano's Head--becomes superb
    On your bare neck, which would, on mine, disturb
    The pauldron," said Taurello. A mad act,
    Nor even dreamed about before--in fact,
    Not when his sportive arm rose for the nonce--
    But he had dallied overmuch, this once,
    With power: the thing was done, and he, aware
    The thing was done, proceeded to declare--
    (So like a nature made to serve, excel
    In serving, only feel by service well!)
    --That he would make Sordello that and more.
    "As good a scheme as any. What's to pore
    At in my face?" he asked--"ponder instead
    This piece of news; you are Romano's Head!
    One cannot slacken pace so near the goal,
    Suffer my Azzo to escape heart-whole
    This time! For you there's Palma to espouse--
    For me, one crowning trouble ere I house
    Like my compeer."
                      On which ensued a strange
    And solemn visitation; there came change
    O'er every one of them; each looked on each:
    Up in the midst a truth grew, without speech.
    And when the giddiness sank and the haze
    Subsided, they were sitting, no amaze,
    Sordello with the baldric on, his sire
            [Sidenote: Who is declared Salinguerra's son,]
    Silent, though his proportions seemed aspire
    Momently; and, interpreting the thrill
    Right at its ebb, Palma was found there still
    Relating somewhat Adelaide confessed
    A year ago, while dying on her breast,--
    Of a contrivance that Vicenza night
    When Ecelin had birth. "Their convoy's flight,
    Cut off a moment, coiled inside the flame
    That wallowed like a dragon at his game
    The toppling city through--San Biagio rocks!
    And wounded lies in her delicious locks
    Retrude, the frail mother, on her face,
    None of her wasted, just in one embrace
    Covering her child: when, as they lifted her,
    Cleaving the tumult, mighty, mightier
    And mightiest Taurello's cry outbroke,
    Leapt like a tongue of fire that cleaves the smoke,
    Midmost to cheer his Mantuans onward--drown
    His colleague Ecelin's clamor, up and down
    The disarray: failed Adelaide see then
    Who was the natural chief, the man of men?
    Outstripping time, her infant there burst swathe,
    Stood up with eyes haggard beyond the scathe
    From wandering after his heritage
    Lost once and lost for aye--and why that rage,
    That deprecating glance? A new shape leant
    On a familiar shape--gloatingly bent
    O'er his discomfiture; 'mid wreaths it wore,
    Still one outflamed the rest--her child's before
    'T was Salinguerra's for his child: scorn, hate,
    Rage now might startle her when all too late!
    Then was the moment!--rival's foot had spurned
            [Sidenote: Hidden hitherto by Adelaide's policy.]
    Never that House to earth else! Sense returned--
    The act conceived, adventured and complete,
    They bore away to an obscure retreat
    Mother and child--Retrude's self not slain"
    (Nor even here Taurello moved) "though pain
    Was fled: and what assured them most 't was fled,
    All pain, was, if they raised the pale hushed head
    'T would turn this way and that, waver awhile,
    And only settle into its old smile--
    (Graceful as the disquieted water-flag
    Steadying itself, remarked they, in the quag
    On either side their path)--when suffered look
    Down on her child. They marched: no sign once shook
    The company's close litter of crossed spears
    Till, as they reached Goito, a few tears
    Slipped in the sunset from her long black lash,
    And she was gone. So far the action rash;
    No crime. They laid Retrude in the font,
    Taurello's very gift, her child was wont
    To sit beneath--constant as eve he came
    To sit by its attendant girls the same
    As one of them. For Palma, she would blend
    With this magnific spirit to the end,
    That ruled her first; but scarcely had she dared
    To disobey the Adelaide who scared
    Her into vowing never to disclose
    A secret to her husband, which so froze
    His blood at half-recital, she contrived
    To hide from him Taurello's infant lived,
    Lest, by revealing that, himself should mar
    Romano's fortunes. And, a crime so far,
    Palma received that action: she was told
    Of Salinguerra's nature, of his cold
    Calm acquiescence in his lot! But free
    To impart the secret to Romano, she
            [Sidenote: How the discovery moves Salinguerra,]
    Engaged to repossess Sordello of
    His heritage, and hers, and that way doff
    The mask, but after years, long years: while now,
    Was not Romano's sign-mark on that brow?"
      Across Taurello's heart his arms were locked:
    And when he did speak 'twas as if he mocked
    The minstrel, "who had not to move," he said,
    "Nor stir--should fate defraud him of a shred
    Of his son's infancy? much less his youth!"
    (Laughingly all this)--"which to aid, in truth,
    Himself, reserved on purpose, had not grown
    Old, not too old--'twas best they kept alone
    Till now, and never idly met till now;"
    --Then, in the same breath, told Sordello how
    All intimations of this eve's event
    Were lies, for Friedrich must advance to Trent,
    Thence to Verona, then to Rome, there stop,
    Tumble the Church down, institute a-top
    The Alps a Prefecture of Lombardy:
    --"That's now!--no prophesying what may be
    Anon, with a new monarch of the clime,
    Native of Gesi, passing his youth's prime
    At Naples. Tito bids my choice decide
    On whom" ...
                 "Embrace him, madman!" Palma cried,
    Who through the laugh saw sweat-drops burst apace,
    And his lips blanching: he did not embrace
    Sordello, but he laid Sordello's hand
    On his own eyes, mouth, forehead.
    This while Sordello was becoming flushed
            [Sidenote: And Sordello the finally-determined,]
    Out of his whiteness; thoughts rushed, fancies rushed;
    He pressed his hand upon his head and signed
    Both should forbear him. "Nay, the best's behind!"
    Taurello laughed--not quite with the same laugh:
    "The truth is, thus we scatter, ay, like chaff
    These Guelfs, a despicable monk recoils
    From: nor expect a fickle Kaiser spoils
    Our triumph!--Friedrich? Think you, I intend
    Friedrich shall reap the fruits of blood I spend
    And brain I waste? Think you, the people clap
    Their hands at my out-hewing this wild gap
    For any Friedrich to fill up? 'Tis mine--
    That's yours: I tell you, towards some such design
    Have I worked blindly, yes, and idly, yes,
    And for another, yes--but worked no less
    With instinct at my heart; I else had swerved,
    While now--look round! My cunning has preserved
    Samminiato--that's a central place
    Secures us Florence, boy,--in Pisa's case,
    By land as she by sea; with Pisa ours,
    And Florence, and Pistoia, one devours
    The land at leisure! Gloriously dispersed--
    Brescia, observe, Milan, Piacenza first
    That flanked us (ah, you know not!) in the March;
    On these we pile, as keystone of our arch,
    Romagna and Bologna, whose first span
    Covered the Trentine and the Valsugan;
    Sofia's Egna by Bolgiano's sure!" ...
    So he proceeded: half of all this, pure
            [Sidenote: The devil putting forth his potency:]
    Delusion, doubtless, nor the rest too true,
    But what was undone he felt sure to do,
    As ring by ring he wrung off, flung away
    The pauldron-rings to give his sword-arm play--
    Need of the sword now! That would soon adjust
    Aught wrong at present; to the sword intrust
    Sordello's whiteness, undersize: 'twas plain
    He hardly rendered right to his own brain--
    Like a brave hound, men educate to pride
    Himself on speed or scent nor aught beside,
    As though he could not, gift by gift, match men!
            [Sidenote: Since Sordello, who began by rhyming,]
    Palma had listened patiently: but when
    'Twas time expostulate, attempt withdraw
    Taurello from his child, she, without awe
    Took off his iron arms from, one by one,
    Sordello's shrinking shoulders, and, that done,
    Made him avert his visage and relieve
    Sordello (you might see his corselet heave
    The while) who, loose, rose--tried to speak, then sank:
    They left him in the chamber. All was blank.
      And even reeling down the narrow stair
    Taurello kept up, as though unaware
    Palma was by to guide him, the old device
    --Something of Milan--"how we muster thrice
    The Torriani's strength there; all along
    Our own Visconti cowed them"--thus the song
    Continued even while she bade him stoop,
    Thrid somehow, by some glimpse of arrow-loop,
    The turnings to the gallery below,
    Where he stopped short as Palma let him go.
    When he had sat in silence long enough
    Splintering the stone bench, braving a rebuff
    She stopped the truncheon; only to commence
    One of Sordello's poems, a pretence
    For speaking, some poor rhyme of "Elys' hair
    And head that's sharp and perfect like a pear,
    So smooth and close are laid the few fine locks
            [Sidenote: May, even from the depths of failure]
    Stained like pale honey oozed from topmost rocks
    Sun-blanched the livelong summer"--from his worst
    Performance, the Goito, as his first:
    And that at end, conceiving from the brow
    And open mouth no silence would serve now,
    Went on to say the whole world loved that man
    And, for that matter, thought his face, though wan,
    Eclipsed the Count's--he sucking in each phrase
    As if an angel spoke. The foolish praise
    Ended, he drew her on his mailed knees, made
    Her face a framework with his hands, a shade,
    A crown, an aureole: there must she remain
    (Her little mouth compressed with smiling pain
    As in his gloves she felt her tresses twitch)
    To get the best look at, in fittest niche
    Dispose his saint. That done, he kissed her brow,
    --"Lauded her father for his treason now,"
    He told her, "only, how could one suspect
    The wit in him?--whose clansman, recollect,
    Was ever Salinguerra--she, the same,
    Romano and his lady--so, might claim
    To know all, as she should"--and thus begun
    Schemes with a vengeance, schemes on schemes, "not one
    Fit to be told that foolish boy," he said,
    "But only let Sordello Palma wed,
             'T was a dim long narrow place at best:
            [Sidenote: Yet spring to the summit of success,]
    Midway a sole grate showed the fiery West,
    As shows its corpse the world's end some split tomb--
    A gloom, a rift of fire, another gloom,
    Faced Palma--but at length Taurello set
    Her free; the grating held one ragged jet
    Of fierce gold fire: he lifted her within
    The hollow underneath--how else begin
    Fate's second marvellous cycle, else renew
    The ages than with Palma plain in view?
    Then paced the passage, hands clenched, head erect,
    Pursuing his discourse; a grand unchecked
    Monotony made out from his quick talk
    And the recurring noises of his walk;
    --Somewhat too much like the o'ercharged assent
    Of two resolved friends in one danger blent,
    Who hearten each the other against heart;
    Boasting there 's naught to care for, when, apart
    The boaster, all 's to care for. He, beside
    Some shape not visible, in power and pride
    Approached, out of the dark, ginglingly near,
    Nearer, passed close in the broad light, his ear
    Crimson, eyeballs suffused, temples full-fraught,
    Just a snatch of the rapid speech you caught,
    And on he strode into the opposite dark,
    Till presently the harsh heel's turn, a spark
    I' the stone, and whirl of some loose embossed thong
    That crashed against the angle aye so long
    After the last, punctual to an amount
    Of mailed great paces you could not but count,--
    Prepared you for the pacing back again.
    And by the snatches you might ascertain
    That, Friedrich's Prefecture surmounted, left
    By this alone in Italy, they cleft
    Asunder, crushed together, at command
    Of none, were free to break up Hildebrand,
            [Sidenote: If he consent to oppress the world.]
    Rebuild, he and Sordello, Charlemagne--
    But garnished, Strength with Knowledge, "if we deign
    Accept that compromise and stoop to give
    Rome law, the Cæsar's Representative."
    Enough, that the illimitable flood
    Of triumphs after triumphs, understood
    In its faint reflux (you shall hear) sufficed
    Young Ecelin for appanage, enticed
    Him on till, these long quiet in their graves,
    He found 't was looked for that a whole life's braves
    Should somehow be made good; so, weak and worn,
    Must stagger up at Milan, one gray morn
    Of the to-come, and fight his latest fight.
    But, Salinguerra's prophecy at height--
            [Sidenote: Just this decided, as it now may be,]
    He voluble with a raised arm and stiff,
    A blaring voice, a blazing eye, as if
    He had our very Italy to keep
    Or cast away, or gather in a heap
    To garrison the better--ay, his word
    Was, "run the cucumber into a gourd,
    Drive Trent upon Apulia"--at their pitch
    Who spied the continents and islands which
    Grew mulberry-leaves and sickles, in the map--
    (Strange that three such confessions so should hap
    To Palma, Dante spoke with in the clear
    Amorous silence of the Swooning-sphere,--
    _Cunizza_, as he called her! Never ask
    Of Palma more! She sat, knowing her task
    Was done, the labor of it,--for, success
    Concerned not Palma, passion's votaress)
    Triumph at height, and thus Sordello crowned--
    Above the passage suddenly a sound
    Stops speech, stops walk: back shrinks Taurello, bids
    With large involuntary asking lids,
    Palma interpret. "'T is his own foot-stamp--
    Your hand! His summons! Nay, this idle damp
    Befits not!" Out they two reeled dizzily.
    "Visconti 's strong at Milan," resumed he,
    In the old, somewhat insignificant way--
    (Was Palma wont, years afterward, to say)
    As though the spirit's flight, sustained thus far,
    Dropped at that very instant.
                                  Gone they are--
    Palma, Taurello; Eglamor anon,
    Ecelin,--only Naddo 's never gone!
    --Labors, this moonrise, what the Master meant--
    "Is Squarcialupo speckled?--purulent,
    I 'd say, but when was Providence put out?
    He carries somehow handily about
    His spite nor fouls himself!" Goito's vines
    Stand like a cheat detected--stark rough lines,
    The moon breaks through, a gray mean scale against
    The vault where, this eve's Maiden, thou remain'st
    Like some fresh martyr, eyes fixed--who can tell?
    As Heaven, now all 's at end, did not so well,
            [Sidenote: And we have done.]
    Spite of the faith and victory, to leave
    Its virgin quite to death in the lone eve.
    While the persisting hermit-bee ... ha! wait
    No longer: these in compass, forward fate!


    The thought of Eglamor's least like a thought,
            [Sidenote: At the close of a day or a life,]
    And yet a false one, was, "Man shrinks to naught
    If matched with symbols of immensity;
    Must quail, forsooth, before a quiet sky
    Or sea, too little for their quietude:"
    And, truly, somewhat in Sordello's mood
    Confirmed its speciousness, while eve slow sank
    Down the near terrace to the farther bank,
    And only one spot left from out the night
    Glimmered, upon the river opposite--
    A breadth of watery heaven like a bay,
    A sky-like space of water, ray for ray,
    And star for star, one richness where they mixed
    As this and that wing of an angel, fixed,
    Tumultuary splendors folded in
    To die. Nor turned he till Ferrara's din
    (Say, the monotonous speech from a man's lip
    Who lets some first and eager purpose slip
    In a new fancy's birth; the speech keeps on
    Though elsewhere its informing soul be gone)
    --Aroused him, surely offered succor. Fate
    Paused with this eve; ere she precipitate
    Herself,--best put off new strange thoughts awhile,
    That voice, those large hands, that portentous smile,--
    What help to pierce the future as the past,
    Lay in the plaining city?
                              And at last
    The main discovery and prime concern,
    All that just now imported him to learn,
    Truth's self, like yonder slow moon to complete
    Heaven, rose again, and, naked at his feet,
    Lighted his old life's every shift and change,
            [Sidenote: Past procedure is fitliest reviewed,]
    Effort with counter-effort; nor the range
    Of each looked wrong except wherein it checked
    Some other--which of these could he suspect,
    Prying into them by the sudden blaze?
    The real way seemed made up of all the ways--
    Mood after mood of the one mind in him;
    Tokens of the existence, bright or dim,
    Of a transcendent all-embracing sense
    Demanding only outward influence,
    A soul, in Palma's phrase, above his soul,
    Power to uplift his power,--such moon's control
    Over such sea-depths,--and their mass had swept
    Onward from the beginning and still kept
    Its course: but years and years the sky above
    Held none, and so, untasked of any love,
    His sensitiveness idled, now amort,
    Alive now, and, to sullenness or sport
    Given wholly up, disposed itself anew
    At every passing instigation, grew
    And dwindled at caprice, in foam-showers spilt,
    Wedge-like insisting, quivered now a gilt
    Shield in the sunshine, now a blinding race
    Of whitest ripples o'er the reef--found place
    For much display; not gathered up and, hurled
    Right from its heart, encompassing the world.
    So had Sordello been, by consequence,
    Without a function: others made pretence
    To strength not half his own, yet had some core
    Within, submitted to some moon, before
    Them still, superior still whate'er their force,--
    Were able therefore to fulfil a course,
    Nor missed life's crown, authentic attribute.
    To each who lives must be a certain fruit
    Of having lived in his degree,--a stage,
    Earlier or later in men's pilgrimage,
    To stop at; and to this the spirits tend
    Who, still discovering beauty without end,
    Amass the scintillations, make one star
    --Something unlike them, self-sustained, afar,--
    And meanwhile nurse the dream of being blest
    By winning it to notice and invest
    Their souls with alien glory, some one day
            [Sidenote: As more appreciable in its entirety.]
    Whene'er the nucleus, gathering shape alway,
    Round to the perfect circle--soon or late;
    According as themselves are formed to wait;
    Whether mere human beauty will suffice
    --The yellow hair and the luxurious eyes,
    Or human intellect seem best, or each
    Combine in some ideal form past reach
    On earth, or else some shade of these, some aim,
    Some love, hate even, take their place, the same,
    So to be served--all this they do not lose,
    Waiting for death to live, nor idly choose
    What must be Hell--a progress thus pursued
    Through all existence, still above the food
    That 's offered them; still fain to reach beyond
    The widened range, in virtue of their bond
    Of sovereignty. Not that a Palma's Love,
    A Salinguerra's Hate, would equal prove
    To swaying all Sordello: but why doubt
            [Sidenote: Strong, he needed external strength:]
    Some love meet for such strength, some moon without
    Would match his sea?--or fear, Good manifest,
    Only the Best breaks faith?--Ah, but the Best
    Somehow eludes us ever, still might be
    And is not! Crave we gems? No penury
    Of their material round us! Pliant earth
    And plastic flame--what balks the mage his birth
    --Jacinth in balls or lodestone by the block?
    Flinders enrich the strand, veins swell the rock;
    Naught more! Seek creatures? Life 's i' the tempest, thought
    Clothes the keen hill-top, mid-day woods are fraught
    With fervors: human forms are well enough!
    But we had hoped, encouraged by the stuff
    Profuse at nature's pleasure, men beyond
    These actual men!--and thus are over-fond
    In arguing, from Good--the Best, from force
    Divided--force combined, an ocean's course
    From this our sea whose mere intestine pants
    Might seem at times sufficient to our wants.
      External power? If none be adequate,
    And he stand forth ordained (a prouder fate)
    Himself a law to his own sphere?--remove
    All incompleteness, for that law, that love?
    Nay, if all other laws be feints,--truth veiled
    Helpfully to weak vision that had failed
    To grasp aught but its special want,--for lure,
    Embodied? Stronger vision could endure
    The unbodied want: no part--the whole of truth!
    The People were himself; nor, by the ruth
    At their condition, was he less impelled
            [Sidenote: Even now, where can he perceive such?]
    To alter the discrepancy beheld,
    Than if, from the sound whole, a sickly part
    Subtracted were transformed, decked out with art,
    Then palmed on him as alien woe--the Guelf
    To succor, proud that he forsook himself.
            [Sidenote: Internal strength must suffice then,]
    All is himself; all service, therefore, rates
    Alike, nor serving one part, immolates
    The rest: but all in time! "That lance of yours
    Makes havoc soon with Malek and his Moors,
    That buckler's lined with many a giant's beard,
    Ere long, our champion, be the lance upreared,
    The buckler wielded handsomely as now!
    But view your escort, bear in mind your vow,
    Count the pale tracts of sand to pass ere that,
    And, if you hope we struggle through the flat,
    Put lance and buckler by! Next half-month lacks
    Mere sturdy exercise of mace and axe
    To cleave this dismal brake of prickly-pear
    Which bristling holds Cydippe by the hair,
    Lames barefoot Agathon: this felled, we'll try
    The picturesque achievements by and by--
    Next life!"
                Ay, rally, mock, O People, urge
    Your claims!--for thus he ventured, to the verge,
    Push a vain mummery which perchance distrust
    Of his fast-slipping resolution thrust
    Likewise: accordingly the Crowd--(as yet
    He had unconsciously contrived forget,
    I' the whole, to dwell o' the points ... one might assuage
    The signal horrors easier than engage
    With a dim vulgar vast unobvious grief
    Not to be fancied off, nor gained relief
    In brilliant fits, cured by a happy quirk,
    But by dim vulgar vast unobvious work
    To corrrespond ...)--this Crowd then, forth they stood.
    "And now content thy stronger vision, brood
    On thy bare want; uncovered, turf by turf,
    Study the corpse-face through the taint-worms' scurf!"
      Down sank the People's Then; up-rose their Now
    These sad ones render service to! And how
            [Sidenote: His sympathy with the people, to wit;]
    Piteously little must that service prove
    --Had surely proved in any case! for, move
    Each other obstacle away, let youth
    Become aware it had surprised a truth
    'T were service to impart--can truth be seized,
    Settled forthwith, and, of the captive eased,
    Its captor find fresh prey, since this alit
    So happily, no gesture luring it,
    The earnest of a flock to follow? Vain,
    Most vain! a life to spend ere this he chain
    To the poor crowd's complacence: ere the crowd
    Pronounce it captured, he descries a cloud
    Its kin of twice the plume; which he, in turn,
    If he shall live as many lives, may learn
    How to secure: not else. Then Mantua called
    Back to his mind how certain bards were thralled
    --Buds blasted, but of breath more like perfume
    Than Naddo's staring nosegay's carrion bloom;
    Some insane rose that burnt heart out in sweets,
    A spendthrift in the spring, no summer greets;
    Some Dularete, drunk with truths and wine,
    Grown bestial, dreaming how become divine.
    Yet to surmount this obstacle, commence
    With the commencement, merits crowning! Hence
    Must truth be casual truth, elicited
    In sparks so mean, at intervals dispread
    So rarely, that 'tis like at no one time
    Of the world's story has not truth, the prime
    Of truth, the very truth which, loosed, had hurled
    The world's course right, been really in the world
    --Content the while with some mean spark by dint
    Of some chance-blow, the solitary hint
    Of buried fire, which, rip earth's breast, would stream
              Sordello's miserable gleam
    Was looked for at the moment: he would dash
    This badge, and all it brought, to earth,--abash
    Taurello thus, perhaps persuade him wrest
    The Kaiser from his purpose,--would attest
    His own belief, in any case. Before
            [Sidenote: Of which, try now the inherent force!]
    He dashes it however, think once more!
    For, were that little, truly service? "Ay,
    I' the end, no doubt; but meantime? Plain you spy
    Its ultimate effect, but many flaws
    Of vision blur each intervening cause.
    Were the day's fraction clear as the life's sum
    Of service, Now as filled as teems To-come
    With evidence of good--nor too minute
    A share to vie with evil! No dispute,
    'Twere fitliest maintain the Guelfs in rule:
    That makes your life's work: but you have to school
    Your day's work on these natures circumstanced
    Thus variously, which yet, as each advanced
    Or might impede the Guelf rule, must be moved
    Now, for the Then's sake,--hating what you loved,
    Loving old hatreds! Nor if one man bore
    Brand upon temples while his fellow wore
    The aureole, would it task you to decide:
    But, portioned duly out, the future vied
    Never with the unparcelled present! Smite
    Or spare so much on warrant all so slight?
    The present's complete sympathies to break,
    Aversions bear with, for a future's sake
    So feeble? Tito ruined through one speck.
    The Legate saved by his sole lightish fleck?
    This were work, true, but work performed at cost
    Of other work; aught gained here, elsewhere lost.
    For a new segment spoil an orb half-done?
    Rise with the People one step, and sink--one?
    Were it but one step, less than the whole face
    Of things, your novel duty bids erase!
    Harms to abolish! What, the prophet saith,
    The minstrel singeth vainly then? Old faith,
    Old courage, only born because of harms,
    Were not, from highest to the lowest, charms?
    Flame may persist; but is not glare as stanch?
    Where the salt marshes stagnate, crystals branch;
    Blood dries to crimson; Evil's beautified
    In every shape. Thrust Beauty then aside
    And banish Evil! Wherefore? After all,
    Is Evil a result less natural
    Than Good? For overlook the seasons' strife
    With tree and flower,--the hideous animal life,
    (Of which who seeks shall find a grinning taunt
            [Sidenote: How much of man's ill may be removed?]
    For his solution, and endure the vaunt
    Of nature's angel, as a child that knows
    Himself befooled, unable to propose
    Aught better than the fooling)--and but care
    For men, for the mere People then and there,--
    In these, could you but see that Good and Ill
    Claimed you alike! Whence rose their claim but still
    From Ill, as fruit of Ill? What else could knit
    You theirs but Sorrow? Any free from it
    Were also free from you! Whose happiness
    Could be distinguished in this morning's press
    Of miseries?--the fool's who passed a gibe
    'On thee,' jeered he, so wedded to thy tribe,
    Thou carriest green and yellow tokens in
    Thy very face that thou art Ghibellin!'
    Much hold on you that fool obtained! Nay mount
    Yet higher--and upon men's own account
            [Sidenote: How much of ill ought to be removed?]
    Must evil stay: for, what is joy?--to heave
    Up one obstruction more, and common leave
    What was peculiar, by such act destroy
    Itself; a partial death is every joy;
    The sensible escape, enfranchisement
    Of a sphere's essence: once the vexed--content,
    The cramped--at large, the growing circle--round,
    All's to begin again--some novel bound
    To break, some new enlargement to entreat;
    The sphere though larger is not more complete.
    Now for Mankind's experience: who alone
    Might style the unobstructed world his own?
    Whom palled Goito with its perfect things?
    Sordello's self: whereas for Mankind springs
    Salvation by each hindrance interposed.
    They climb; life's view is not at once disclosed
    To creatures caught up, on the summit left,
    Heaven plain above them, yet of wings bereft:
    But lower laid, as at the mountain's foot.
    So, range on range, the girdling forests shoot
    Twixt your plain prospect and the throngs who scale
    Height after height, and pierce mists, veil by veil,
    Heartened with each discovery; in their soul,
    The Whole they seek by Parts--but, found that Whole,
    Could they revert, enjoy past gains? The space
    Of time you judge so meagre to embrace
    The Parts were more than plenty, once attained
    The Whole, to quite exhaust it: naught were gained
    But leave to look--not leave to do: Beneath
    Soon sates the looker--look above, and Death
    Tempts ere a tithe of Life be tasted. Live
    First, and die soon enough, Sordello! Give
            [Sidenote: If removed, at what cost to Sordello?]
    Body and spirit the first right they claim,
    And pasture soul on a voluptuous shame
    That you, a pageant-city's denizen,
    Are neither vilely lodged 'midst Lombard men--
    Can force joy out of sorrow, seem to truck
    Bright attributes away for sordid muck,
    Yet manage from that very muck educe
    Gold; then subject nor scruple, to your cruce
    The world's discardings! Though real ingots pay
    Your pains, the clods that yielded them are clay
    To all beside,--would clay remain, though quenched
    Your purging-fire; who's robbed then? Had you wrenched
    An ampler treasure forth!--As 't is, they crave
    A share that ruins you and will not save
    Them. Why should sympathy command you quit
    The course that makes your joy, nor will remit
    Their woe? Would all arrive at joy? Reverse
            [Sidenote: Men win little thereby; he loses all:]
    The order (time instructs you) nor coerce
    Each unit till, some predetermined mode,
    The total be emancipate; men's road
    Is one, men's times of travel many; thwart
    No enterprising soul's precocious start
    Before the general march! If slow or fast
    All straggle up to the same point at last,
    Why grudge your having gained, a month ago,
    The brakes at balm-shed, asphodels in blow,
    While they were landlocked? Speed their Then, but how
    This badge would suffer you improve your Now!"
      His time of action for, against, or with
    Our world (I labor to extract the pith
    Of this his problem) grew, that even-tide,
    Gigantic with its power of joy, beside
    The world's eternity of impotence
    To profit though at his whole joy's expense.
            [Sidenote: For he can infinitely enjoy himself,]
    "Make nothing of my day because so brief?
    Rather make more: instead of joy, use grief
    Before its novelty have time subside!
    Wait not for the late savor, leave untried
    Virtue, the creaming honey-wine, quick squeeze
    Vice like a biting spirit from the lees
    Of life! Together let wrath, hatred, lust,
    All tyrannies in every shape, be thrust
    Upon this Now, which time may reason out
    As mischiefs, far from benefits, no doubt;
    But long ere then Sordello will have slipped
    Away; you teach him at Goito's crypt,
    There 's a blank issue to that fiery thrill.
    Stirring, the few cope with the many, still:
    So much of sand as, quiet, makes a mass
    Unable to produce three tufts of grass,
    Shall, troubled by the whirlwind, render void
    The whole calm glebe's endeavor: he employed!
    And e'en though somewhat smart the Crowd for this,
    Contribute each his pang to make your bliss,
    'T is but one pang--one blood-drop to the bowl
    Which brimful tempts the sluggish asp uncowl
    At last, stains ruddily the dull red cape,
    And, kindling orbs gray as the unripe grape
    Before, avails forthwith to disentrance
    The portent, soon to lead a mystic dance
    Among you! For, who sits alone in Rome?
    Have those great hands indeed hewn out a home,
    And set me there to live? Oh life, life-breath,
    Life-blood,--ere sleep, come travail, life ere death!
    This life stream on my soul, direct, oblique,
    But always streaming! Hindrances? They pique:
    Helps? such ... but why repeat, my soul o'er-tops
    Each height, then every depth profoundlier drops?
    Enough that I can live, and would live! Wait
    For some transcendent life reserved by Fate
    To follow this? Oh, never! Fate, I trust
    The same, my soul to; for, as who flings dust,
    Perchance (so facile was the deed) she checked
    The void with these materials to affect
    My soul diversely: these consigned anew
    To naught by death, what marvel if she threw
    A second and superber spectacle
    Before me? What may serve for sun, what still
    Wander a moon above me? What else wind
    About me like the pleasures left behind,
    And how shall some new flesh that is not flesh
    Cling to me? What 's new laughter? Soothes the fresh
    Sleep like sleep? Fate 's exhaustless for my sake
    In brave resource: but whether bids she slake
    My thirst at this first rivulet, or count
    No draught worth lip save from some rocky fount
    Above i' the clouds, while here she 's provident
    Of pure loquacious pearl, the soft tree-tent
    Guards, with its face of reate and sedge, nor fail
    The silver globules and gold-sparkling grail
    At bottom? Oh, 't were too absurd to slight
    For the hereafter the to-day's delight!
    Quench thirst at this, then seek next well-spring: wear
    Home-lilies ere strange lotus in my hair!
    Here is the Crowd, whom I with freest heart
    Offer to serve, contented for my part
            [Sidenote: Freed from a problematic obligation,]
    To give life up in service,--only grant
    That I do serve; if otherwise, why want
    Aught further of me? If men cannot choose
    But set aside life, why should I refuse
    The gift? I take it--I, for one, engage
    Never to falter through my pilgrimage--
    Nor end it howling that the stock or stone
    Were enviable, truly: I, for one,
    Will praise the world, you style mere anteroom
    To palace--be it so! shall I assume
    --My foot the courtly gait, my tongue the trope,
    My mouth the smirk, before the doors fly ope
    One moment? What? with guarders row on row,
    Gay swarms of varletry that come and go,
    Pages to dice with, waiting-girls unlace
    The plackets of, pert claimants help displace,
    Heart-heavy suitors get a rank for,--laugh
    At yon sleek parasite, break his own staff
    'Cross Beetle-brows the Usher's shoulder,--why,
    Admitted to the presence by and by,
    Should thought of having lost these make me grieve
    Among new joys I reach, for joys I leave?
    Cool citrine-crystals, fierce pyropus-stone,
    Are floor-work there! But do I let alone
    That black-eyed peasant in the vestibule
    Once and forever?--Floor-work? No such fool!
    Rather, were heaven to forestall earth, I'd say
    I, is it, must be blessed? Then, my own way
            [Sidenote: And accepting life on its own terms,]
    Bless me! Give firmer arm and fleeter foot,
    I 'll thank you: but to no mad wings transmute
    These limbs of mine--our greensward was so soft!
    Nor camp I on the thunder-cloud aloft:
    We feel the bliss distinctlier, having thus
    Engines subservient, not mixed up with us.
    Better move palpably through heaven: nor, freed
    Of flesh, forsooth, from space to space proceed
    'Mid flying synods of worlds! No: in heaven's marge
    Show Titan still, recumbent o'er his targe
    Solid with stars--the Centaur at his game,
    Made tremulously out in hoary flame!
      "Life! Yet the very cup whose extreme dull
    Dregs, even, I would quaff, was dashed, at full,
    Aside so oft; the death I fly, revealed
    So oft a better life this life concealed,
    And which sage, champion, martyr, through each path
            [Sidenote: Which, yet, others have renounced: how?]
    Have hunted fearlessly--the horrid bath,
    The crippling-irons and the fiery chair.
    'T was well for them; let me become aware
    As they, and I relinquish life, too! Let
    What masters life disclose itself! Forget
    Vain ordinances, I have one appeal--
    I feel, am what I feel, know what I feel;
    So much is truth to me. What Is, then? Since
    One object, viewed diversely, may evince
    Beauty and ugliness--this way attract,
    That way repel,--why gloze upon the fact?
    Why must a single of the sides be right?
    What bids choose this and leave the opposite?
    Where's abstract Right for me?--in youth endued
    With Right still present, still to be pursued,
    Through all the interchange of circles, rife
    Each with its proper law and mode of life,
    Each to be dwelt at ease in: where, to sway
    Absolute with the Kaiser, or obey
    Implicit with his serf of fluttering heart,
    Or, like a sudden thought of God's, to start
    Up, Brutus in the presence, then go shout
    That some should pick the unstrung jewels out--
    Each, well!"
                 And, as in moments when the past
    Gave partially enfranchisement, he cast
    Himself quite through mere secondary states
    Of his soul's essence, little loves and hates,
            [Sidenote: Because there is a life beyond life,]
    Into the mid deep yearnings overlaid
    By these; as who should pierce hill, plain, grove, glade,
    And on into the very nucleus probe
    That first determined there exist a globe.
    As that were easiest, half the globe dissolved,
    So seemed Sordello's closing-truth evolved
    By his flesh-half's break up; the sudden swell
    Of his expanding soul showed Ill and Well,
    Sorrow and Joy, Beauty and Ugliness,
    Virtue and Vice, the Larger and the Less,
    All qualities, in fine, recorded here,
    Might be but modes of Time and this one sphere,
    Urgent on these, but not of force to bind
    Eternity, as Time--as Matter--Mind,
    If Mind, Eternity, should choose assert
    Their attributes within a Life: thus girt
    With circumstance, next change beholds them cinct
    Quite otherwise--with Good and Ill distinct,
    Joys, sorrows, tending to a like result--
    Contrived to render easy, difficult,
    This or the other course of ... what new bond
    In place of flesh may stop their flight beyond
    Its new sphere, as that course does harm or good
    To its arrangements. Once this understood,
    As suddenly he felt himself alone,
    Quite out of Time and this world: all was known.
    What made the secret of his past despair?
    --Most imminent when he seemed most aware
    Of his own self-sufficiency; made mad
    By craving to expand the power he had,
    And not new power to be expanded?--just
    This made it; Soul on Matter being thrust,
    Joy comes when so much Soul is wreaked in Time
    On Matter,--let the Soul's attempt sublime
    Matter beyond the scheme and so prevent
    By more or less that deed's accomplishment,
    And Sorrow follows: Sorrow how avoid?
    Let the employer match the thing employed,
    Fit to the finite his infinity.
    And thus proceed forever, in degree
            [Sidenote: And with new conditions of success,]
    Changed but in kind the same, still limited
    To the appointed circumstance and dead
    To all beyond. A sphere is but a sphere;
    Small, Great, are merely terms we bandy here;
    Since to the spirit's absoluteness all
    Are like. Now, of the present sphere we call
    Life, are conditions; take but this among
    Many; the body was to be so long
    Youthful, no longer: but, since no control
    Tied to that body's purposes his soul,
    She chose to understand the body's trade
    More than the body's self--had fain conveyed
    Her boundless, to the body's bounded lot.
    Hence, the soul permanent, the body not,--
    Scarcely its minute for enjoying here,--
    The soul must needs instruct her weak compeer,
    Run o'er its capabilities and wring
    A joy thence, she held worth experiencing:
    Which, far from half discovered even,--lo,
    The minute gone, the body's power let go
    Apportioned to that joy's acquirement! Broke
            [Sidenote: Nor such as, in this, produce failure.]
    Morning o'er earth, he yearned for all it woke--
    From the volcano's vapor-flag, winds hoist
    Black o'er the spread of sea,--down to the moist
    Dale's silken barley-spikes sullied with rain,
    Swayed earthwards, heavily to rise again--
    The Small, a sphere as perfect as the Great
    To the soul's absoluteness. Meditate
    Too long on such a morning's cluster-chord
    And the whole music it was framed afford,--
    The chord's might half discovered, what should pluck
    One string, his finger, was found palsy-struck.
    And then no marvel if the spirit, shown
    A saddest sight--the body lost alone
    Through her officious proffered help, deprived
    Of this and that enjoyment Fate contrived,--
    Virtue, Good, Beauty, each allowed slip hence,--
    Vaingloriously were fain, for recompense,
    To stem the ruin even yet, protract
    The body's term, supply the power it lacked
    From her infinity, compel it learn
    These qualities were only Time's concern,
    And body may, with spirit helping, barred--
    Advance the same, vanquished--obtain reward,
    Reap joy where sorrow was intended grow,
    Of Wrong make Right, and turn Ill Good below.
    And the result is, the poor body soon
    Sinks under what was meant a wondrous boon,
    Leaving its bright accomplice all aghast.
      So much was plain then, proper in the past;
    To be complete for, satisfy the whole
    Series of spheres--Eternity, his soul
    Needs must exceed, prove incomplete for, each
    Single sphere--Time. But does our knowledge reach
    No farther? Is the cloud of hindrance broke
            [Sidenote: But, even here, is failure inevitable?]
    But by the failing of the fleshly yoke,
    Its loves and hates, as now when death lets soar
    Sordello, self-sufficient as before,
    Though during the mere space that shall elapse
    'Twixt his enthralment in new bonds, perhaps?
    Must life be ever just escaped, which should
    Have been enjoyed?--nay, might have been and would,
    Each purpose ordered right--the soul's no whit
    Beyond the body's purpose under it--
    Like yonder breadth of watery heaven, a bay,
    And that sky-space of water, ray for ray
    And star for star, one richness where they mixed
    As this and that wing of an angel, fixed,
    Tumultuary splendors folded in
    To die--would soul, proportioned thus, begin
    Exciting discontent, or surelier quell
    The body if, aspiring, it rebel?
    But how so order life? Still brutalize
    The soul, the sad world's way, with muffled eyes
    To all that was before, all that shall be
    After this sphere--all and each quality
    Save some sole and immutable Great-Good
    And Beauteous whither fate has loosed its hood
            [Sidenote: Or may failure here be success also]
    To follow? Never may some soul see All
    --The Great Before and After, and the Small
    Now, yet be saved by this the simplest lore,
    And take the single course prescribed before,
    As the king-bird with ages on his plumes
    Travels to die in his ancestral glooms?
    But where descry the Love that shall select
    That course? Here is a soul whom, to affect,
    Nature has plied with all her means, from trees
    And flowers e'en to the Multitude!--and these,
    Decides he save or no? One word to end!
      Ah, my Sordello, I this once befriend
    And speak for you. Of a Power above you still
    Which, utterly incomprehensible,
    Is out of rivalry, which thus you can
            [Sidenote: When induced by love?]
    Love, though unloving all conceived by man--
    What need! And of--none the minutest duct
    To that out-nature, naught that would instruct
    And so let rivalry begin to live--
    But of a Power its representative
    Who, being for authority the same,
    Communication different, should claim
    A course, the first chose but this last revealed--
    This Human clear, as that Divine concealed--
    What utter need!
                     What has Sordello found?
    Or can his spirit go the mighty round,
    End where poor Eglamor begun? So, says
    Old fable, the two eagles went two ways
    About the world: where, in the midst, they met,
    Though on a shifting waste of sand, men set
    Jove's temple. Quick, what has Sordello found?
            [Sidenote: Sordello knows:]
    For they approach--approach--that foot's rebound
    Palma? No, Salinguerra though in mail;
    They mount, have reached the threshold, dash the veil
    Aside--and you divine who sat there dead,
    Under his foot the badge: still, Palma said,
    A triumph lingering in the wide eyes,
    Wider than some spent swimmer's if he spies
    Help from above in his extreme despair,
    And, head far back on shoulder thrust, turns there
    With short quick passionate cry: as Palma pressed
    In one great kiss, her lips upon his breast,
    It beat.
             By this, the hermit-bee has stopped
    His day's toil at Goito: the new-cropped
    Dead vine-leaf answers, now 't is eve, he bit,
    Twirled so, and filed all day: the mansion's fit,
    God counselled for. As easy guess the word
    That passed betwixt them, and become the third
    To the soft small unfrighted bee, as tax
    Him with one fault--so, no remembrance racks
            [Sidenote: But too late: an insect knows sooner.]
    Of the stone maidens and the font of stone
    He, creeping through the crevice, leaves alone.
    Alas, my friend, alas Sordello, whom
    Anon they laid within that old font-tomb,
    And, yet again, alas!
                          And now is 't worth
    Our while bring back to mind, much less set forth
    How Salinguerra extricates himself
    Without Sordello? Ghibellin and Guelf
    May fight their fiercest out? If Richard sulked
    In durance or the Marquis paid his mulct,
    Who cares, Sordello gone? The upshot, sure,
            [Sidenote: On his disappearance from the stage,]
    Was peace; our chief made some frank overture
    That prospered; compliment fell thick and fast
    On its disposer, and Taurello passed
    With foe and friend for an outstripping soul,
    Nine days at least. Then,--fairly reached the goal,--
    He, by one effort, blotted the great hope
    Out of his mind, nor further tried to cope
    With Este, that mad evening's style, but sent
    Away the Legate and the League, content
    No blame at least the brothers had incurred,
    --Dispatched a message to the Monk, he heard
    Patiently first to last, scarce shivered at,
    Then curled his limbs up on his wolfskin mat
    And ne'er spoke more,--informed the Ferrarese
    He but retained their rule so long as these
    Lingered in pupilage,--and last, no mode
    Apparent else of keeping safe the road
    From Germany direct to Lombardy
    For Friedrich,--none, that is, to guarantee
    The faith and promptitude of who should next
    Obtain Sofia's dowry,--sore perplexed--
    (Sofia being youngest of the tribe
            [Sidenote: The next aspirant can press forward;]
    Of daughters, Ecelin was wont to bribe
    The envious magnates with--nor, since he sent
    Henry of Egna this fair child, had Trent
    Once failed the Kaiser's purposes--"we lost
    Egna last year, and who takes Egna's post--
    Opens the Lombard gate if Friedrich knock?")
    Himself espoused the Lady of the Rock
    In pure necessity, and, so destroyed
    His slender last of chances, quite made void
    Old prophecy, and spite of all the schemes
    Overt and covert, youth's deeds, age's dreams,
    Was sucked into Romano. And so hushed
    He up this evening's work, that, when 't was brushed
    Somehow against by a blind chronicle
    Which, chronicling whatever woe befell
    Ferrara, noted this the obscure woe
    Of "Salinguerra's sole son Giacomo
    Deceased, fatuous and doting, ere his sire,"
    The townsfolk rubbed their eyes, could but admire
    Which of Sofia's five was meant.
                                     The chaps
    Of earth's dead hope were tardy to collapse,
    Obliterated not the beautiful
    Distinctive features at a crash: but dull
    And duller these, next year, as Guelfs withdrew
    Each to his stronghold. Then (securely too
    Ecelin at Campese slept; close by,
    Who likes may see him in Solagna lie,
    With cushioned head and gloved hand to denote
    The cavalier he was)--then his heart smote
    Young Ecelin at last; long since adult.
    And, save Vicenza's business, what result
    In blood and blaze? (So hard to intercept
    Sordello till his plain withdrawal!) Stepped
            [Sidenote: Salinguerra's part lapsing to Ecelin,]
    Then its new lord on Lombardy. I' the nick
    Of time when Ecelin and Alberic
    Closed with Taurello, come precisely news
    That in Verona half the souls refuse
    Allegiance to the Marquis and the Count--
    Have cast them from a throne they bid him mount,
    Their Podestà, through his ancestral worth.
    Ecelin flew there, and the town henceforth
    Was wholly his--Taurello sinking back
    From temporary station to a track
    That suited. News received of this acquist,
    Friedrich did come to Lombardy: who missed
    Taurello then? Another year: they took
    Vicenza, left the Marquis scarce a nook
    For refuge, and, when hundreds two or three
    Of Guelfs conspired to call themselves "The Free,"
    Opposing Alberic,--vile Bassanese,--
    (Without Sordello!)--Ecelin at ease
    Slaughtered them so observably, that oft
    A little Salinguerra looked with soft
    Blue eyes up, asked his sire the proper age
    To get appointed his proud uncle's page.
    More years passed, and that sire had dwindled down
    To a mere showy turbulent soldier, grown
    Better through age, his parts still in repute,
    Subtle--how else?--but hardly so astute
    As his contemporaneous friends professed;
    Undoubtedly a brawler: for the rest,
    Known by each neighbor, and allowed for, let
    Keep his incorrigible ways, nor fret
    Men who would miss their boyhood's bugbear: "trap
    The ostrich, suffer our bald osprey flap
    A battered pinion!"--was the word. In fine,
    One flap too much and Venice's marine
    Was meddled with; no overlooking that!
    She captured him in his Ferrara, fat
    And florid at a banquet, more by fraud
    Than force, to speak the truth; there 's slander laud
    Ascribed you for assisting eighty years
    To pull his death on such a man; fate shears
    The life-cord prompt enough whose last fine thread
    You fritter: so, presiding his board-head,
    The old smile, your assurance all went well
    With Friedrich (as if he were like to tell!)
    In rushed (a plan contrived before) our friends,
    Made some pretence at fighting, some amends
    For the shame done his eighty years--(apart
    The principle, none found it in his heart
    To be much angry with Taurello)--gained
    Their galleys with the prize, and what remained
    But carry him to Venice for a show?
    --Set him, as 't were, down gently--free to go
    His gait, inspect our square, pretend observe
    The swallows soaring their eternal curve
    'Twixt Theodore and Mark, if citizens
    Gathered importunately, fives and tens,
    To point their children the Magnifico,
            [Sidenote: Who, with his brother, played it out,]
    All but a monarch once in firm-land, go
    His gait among them now--"it took, indeed,
    Fully this Ecelin to supersede
    That man," remarked the seniors. Singular!
    Sordello's inability to bar
    Rivals the stage, that evening, mainly brought
    About by his strange disbelief that aught
    Was ever to be done,--this thrust the Twain
    Under Taurello's tutelage,--whom, brain
    And heart and hand, he forthwith in one rod
    Indissolubly bound to baffle God
    Who loves the world--and thus allowed the thin
    Gray wizened dwarfish devil Ecelin,
    And massy-muscled big-boned Alberic
    (Mere man, alas!) to put his problem quick
    To demonstration--prove wherever 's will
    To do, there 's plenty to be done, or ill
    Or good. Anointed, then, to rend and rip--
    Kings of the gag and flesh-hook, screw and whip,
    They plagued the world: a touch of Hildebrand
    (So far from obsolete!) made Lombards band
    Together, cross their coats as for Christ's cause,
    And saving Milan win the world's applause.
    Ecelin perished: and I think grass grew
    Never so pleasant as in Valley Rù
            [Sidenote: And went home duly to their reward.]
    By San Zenon where Alberic in turn
    Saw his exasperated captors burn
    Seven children and their mother; then, regaled
    So far, tied on to a wild horse, was trailed
    To death through raunce and bramble-bush. I take
    God's part and testify that 'mid the brake
    Wild o'er his castle on the pleasant knoll,
    You hear its one tower left, a belfry, toll--
    The earthquake spared it last year, laying flat
    The modern church beneath,--no harm in that!
    Chirrups the contumacious grasshopper,
    Rustles the lizard and the cushats chirre
    Above the ravage: there, at deep of day
    A week since, heard I the old Canon say
    He saw with his own eyes a barrow burst
    And Alberic's huge skeleton unhearsed
    Only five years ago. He added, "June 's
    The month for carding off our first cocoons
    The silkworms fabricate"--a double news,
    Nor he nor I could tell the worthier. Choose!
      And Naddo gone, all 's gone; not Eglamor!
    Believe, I knew the face I waited for,
    A guest my spirit of the golden courts!
    Oh strange to see how, despite ill-reports,
    Disuse, some wear of years, that face retained
    Its joyous look of love! Suns waxed and waned,
    And still my spirit held an upward flight,
    Spiral on spiral, gyres of life and light
    More and more gorgeous--ever that face there
    The last admitted! crossed, too, with some care
    As perfect triumph were not sure for all,
            [Sidenote: Good will--ill luck, get second prize:]
    But, on a few, enduring damp must fall,
    --A transient struggle, haply a painful sense
    Of the inferior nature's clinging--whence
    Slight starting tears easily wiped away.
    Fine jealousies soon stifled in the play
    Of irrepressible admiration--not
    Aspiring, all considered, to their lot
    Who ever, just as they prepare ascend
    Spiral on spiral, wish thee well, impend
    Thy frank delight at their exclusive track,
    That upturned fervid face and hair put back!
      Is there no more to say? He of the rhymes--
    Many a tale, of this retreat betimes,
    Was born: Sordello die at once for men?
    The Chroniclers of Mantua tired their pen
    Telling how _Sordello Prince Visconti_ saved
    Mantua, and elsewhere notably behaved--
    Who thus, by fortune ordering events,
    Passed with posterity, to all intents,
    For just the god he never could become.
    As Knight, Bard, Gallant, men were never dumb
    In praise of him: while what he should have been,
    Could be, and was not--the one step too mean
    For him to take,--we suffer at this day
    Because of: Ecelin had pushed away
    Its chance ere Dante could arrive and take
            [Sidenote: What least one may I award Sordello?]
    That step Sordello spurned, for the world's sake:
    He did much--but Sordello's chance was gone.
    Thus, had Sordello dared that step alone,
    Apollo had been compassed--'t was a fit
    He wished should go to him, not he to it
    --As one content to merely be supposed
    Singing or fighting elsewhere, while he dozed
    Really at home--one who was chiefly glad
    To have achieved the few real deeds he had,
    Because that way assured they were not worth
    Doing, so spared from doing them henceforth--
    A tree that covets fruitage and yet tastes
    Never itself, itself. Had he embraced
    Their cause then, men had plucked Hesperian fruit
    And, praising that, just thrown him in to boot
    All he was anxious to appear, but scarce
    Solicitous to be. A sorry farce
    Such life is, after all! Cannot I say
            [Sidenote: This--that must perforce content him,]
    He lived for some one better thing? this way.--
    Lo, on a heathy brown and nameless hill
    By sparkling Asolo, in mist and chill,
    Morning just up, higher and higher runs
    A child barefoot and rosy. See! the sun 's
    On the square castle's inner-court's low wall
    Like the chine of some extinct animal
    Half turned to earth and flowers; and through the haze
    (Save where some slender patches of gray maize
    Are to be overleaped) that boy has crossed
    The whole hill-side of dew and powder-frost
    Matting the balm and mountain camomile.
    Up and up goes he, singing all the while
    Some unintelligible words to beat
    The lark, God's poet, swooning at his feet,
    So worsted is he at "the few fine locks
    Stained like pale honey oozed from topmost rocks
    Sun-blanched the livelong summer,"--all that 's left
    Of the Goito lay! And thus bereft,
    Sleep and forget, Sordello! In effect
    He sleeps, the feverish poet--I suspect
            [Sidenote: As no prize at all, has contented me.]
    Not utterly companionless; but, friends,
    Wake up! The ghost 's gone, and the story ends
    I 'd fain hope, sweetly; seeing, peri or ghoul,
    That spirits are conjectured fair or foul,
    Evil or good, judicious authors think,
    According as they vanish in a stink
    Or in a perfume. Friends, be frank! ye snuff
    Civet, I warrant. Really? Like enough!
    Merely the savor's rareness; any nose
    May ravage with impunity a rose:
    Rifle a musk-pod and 't will ache like yours!
    I 'd tell you that same pungency ensures
    An after-gust, but that were overbold.
    Who would has heard Sordello's story told.



_Sordello_ did not prove commercially successful, and Browning was
reluctant to go on publishing his poetry at his father's expense. "One
day," Mr. Gosse says, "as the poet was discussing the matter with Mr.
Edward Moxon, the publisher, the latter remarked that at that time he
was bringing out some editions of the old Elizabethan dramatists in
a comparatively cheap form, and that if Mr. Browning would consent
to print his poems as pamphlets, using this cheap type, the expense
would be very inconsiderable." Browning accepted the suggestion at
once and began the issue of a cheap series of pamphlets, each sixteen
octavo pages in double column, printed on poor paper and sold first
for a sixpence each, the price afterward being raised to a shilling
and then to half a crown. The series consisted of eight numbers under
the general fanciful title _Bells and Pomegranates_. Apparently the
passage in Exodus xxviii. 33, "And beneath upon the hem of it [the
priest's robe] thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and
of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them
round about," suggested the title, but as all sorts of speculations
sprang up about its significance, Browning appended the following note
to the eighth and final number of the series:--

    "Here ends my first series of _Bells and Pomegranates_, and I take
    the opportunity of explaining, in reply to inquiries, that I only
    meant by that title to indicate an endeavor towards something
    like an alteration, or mixture, of music with discoursing, sound
    with sense, poetry with thought; which looks too ambitious, thus
    expressed, so the symbol was preferred. It is little to the
    purpose, that such is actually one of the most familiar of the many
    Rabbinical (and Patristic) acceptations of the phrase; because I
    confess that, letting authority alone, I suppose the bare words, in
    such juxtaposition, would sufficiently convey the desired meaning.
    'Faith and good works' is another fancy, for instance, and perhaps
    no easier to arrive at; yet Giotto placed a pomegranate fruit in
    the hand of Dante, and Raffaello crowned his Theology (in the
    _Camera della Segnatura_) with blossoms of the same; as if the
    Bellari and Vasari would be sure to come after, and explain that it
    was merely '_simbolo delle buone opere--il qual Pomogranato fu però
    usato nelle veste del Pontefice appresso gli Ebrei_.'

    "R. B."

The first number of _Bells and Pomegranates_ contained _Pippa Passes_.
It was published in 1841 and was introduced by the following dedicatory


Two or three years ago I wrote a Play, about which the chief matter I
much care to recollect at present is, that a Pitfull of good-natured
people applauded it: ever since, I have been desirous of doing
something in the same way that should better reward their attention.
What follows, I mean for the first of a series of Dramatical Pieces,
to come out at intervals; and I amuse myself by fancying that the
cheap mode in which they appear, will for once help me to a sort
of Pit-audience again. Of course such a work must go on no longer
than it is liked; and to provide against a too certain and but too
possible contingency, let me hasten to say now--what, if I were sure of
success, I would try to say circumstantially enough at the close--that
I dedicate my best intentions most admiringly to the Author of
_Ion_--most affectionately to Sergeant Talfourd.


       *       *       *       *       *

The phrases in the closing sentence were afterward used by Browning
as a dedication when he discarded the advertisement in the collective
editions of his poems.


    Foreign Students.
    Austrian Police.
    LUIGI and his mother.
    Poor Girls.
    MONSIGNOR and his attendants.



_A large mean airy chamber. A girl_, PIPPA, _from the silk-mills,
springing out of bed._

    Faster and more fast,
    O'er night's brim, day boils at last:
    Boils, pure gold, o'er the cloud-cup's brim
    Where spurting and suppressed it lay,
    For not a froth-flake touched the rim
    Of yonder gap in the solid gray
    Of the eastern cloud, an hour away;
    But forth one wavelet, then another, curled,
    Till the whole sunrise, not to be suppressed,
    Rose, reddened, and its seething breast
    Flickered in bounds, grew gold, then overflowed the world.

    Oh Day, if I squander a wavelet of thee,
    A mite of my twelve-hours' treasure,
    The least of thy gazes or glances,
    (Be they grants thou art bound to or gifts above measure)
    One of thy choices or one of thy chances,
    (Be they tasks God imposed thee or freaks at thy pleasure)
    --My Day, if I squander such labor or leisure,
    Then shame fall on Asolo, mischief on me!

    Thy long blue solemn hours serenely flowing,
    Whence earth, we feel, gets steady help and good--
    Thy fitful sunshine-minutes, coming, going,
    As if earth turned from work in gamesome mood--
    All shall be mine! But thou must treat me not
    As prosperous ones are treated, those who live
    At hand here, and enjoy the higher lot,
    In readiness to take what thou wilt give,
    And free to let alone what thou refusest;
    For, Day, my holiday, if thou ill-usest
    Me, who am only Pippa,--old-year's sorrow,
    Cast off last night, will come again to-morrow:
    Whereas, if thou prove gentle, I shall borrow
    Sufficient strength of thee for new-year's sorrow.
    All other men and women that this earth
    Belongs to, who all days alike possess,
    Make general plenty cure particular dearth,
    Get more joy one way, if another, less:
    Thou art my single day, God lends to leaven
    What were all earth else, with a feel of heaven,--
    Sole light that helps me through the year, thy sun's!
    Try now! Take Asolo's Four Happiest Ones--
    And let thy morning rain on that superb
    Great haughty Ottima; can rain disturb
    Her Sebald's homage? All the while thy rain
    Beats fiercest on her shrub-house window-pane
    He will but press the closer, breathe more warm
    Against her cheek; how should she mind the storm?
    And, morning past, if mid-day shed a gloom
    O'er Jules and Phene,--what care bride and groom
    Save for their dear selves? 'T is their marriage-day;
    And while they leave church and go home their way,
    Hand clasping hand, within each breast would be
    Sunbeams and pleasant weather spite of thee.
    Then, for another trial, obscure thy eve
    With mist,--will Luigi and his mother grieve--
    The lady and her child, unmatched, forsooth,
    She in her age, as Luigi in his youth,
    For true content? The cheerful town, warm, close
    And safe, the sooner that thou art morose,
    Receives them. And yet once again, outbreak
    In storm at night on Monsignor, they make
    Such stir about,--whom they expect from Rome
    To visit Asolo, his brothers' home,
    And say here masses proper to release
    A soul from pain,--what storm dares hurt his peace?
    Calm would he pray, with his own thoughts to ward
    Thy thunder off, nor want the angels' guard.
    But Pippa--just one such mischance would spoil
    Her day that lightens the next twelvemonth's toil
    At wearisome silk-winding, coil on coil!
      And here I let time slip for naught!
    Aha, you foolhardy sunbeam, caught
    With a single splash from my ewer!
    You that would mock the best pursuer,
    Was my basin over-deep?
    One splash of water ruins you asleep,
    And up, up, fleet your brilliant bits
    Wheeling and counterwheeling,
    Reeling, broken beyond healing:
    Now grow together on the ceiling!
    That will task your wits.
    Whoever it was quenched fire first, hoped to see
    Morsel after morsel flee
    As merrily, as giddily ...
    Meantime, what lights my sunbeam on,
    Where settles by degrees the radiant cripple?
    Oh, is it surely blown, my martagon?
    New-blown and ruddy as St. Agnes' nipple,
    Plump as the flesh-bunch on some Turk bird's poll!
    Be sure if corals, branching 'neath the ripple
    Of ocean, bud there,--fairies watch unroll
    Such turban-flowers; I say, such lamps disperse
    Thick red flame through that dusk green universe!
    I am queen of thee, floweret!
    And each fleshy blossom
    Preserve I not--(safer
    Than leaves that embower it,
    Or shells that embosom)
    --From weevil and chafer?
    Laugh through my pane then; solicit the bee;
    Gibe him, be sure; and, in midst of thy glee,
    Love thy queen, worship me!

    --Worship whom else? For am I not, this day,
    Whate'er I please? What shall I please to-day?
    My morn, noon, eve and night--how spend my day?
    To-morrow I must be Pippa who winds silk,
    The whole year round, to earn just bread and milk:
    But, this one day, I have leave to go,
    And play out my fancy's fullest games;
    I may fancy all day--and it shall be so--
    That I taste of the pleasures, am called by the names
    Of the Happiest Four in our Asolo!

    See! Up the hillside yonder, through the morning,
    Some one shall love me, as the world calls love:
    I am no less than Ottima, take warning!
    The gardens, and the great stone house above,
    And other house for shrubs, all glass in front,
    Are mine; where Sebald steals, as he is wont,
    To court me, while old Luca yet reposes:
    And therefore, till the shrub-house door un-closes,
    I ... what now?--give abundant cause for prate
    About me--Ottima, I mean--of late,
    Too bold, too confident she'll still face down
    The spitefullest of talkers in our town.
    How we talk in the little town below!
      But love, love, love--there's better love, I know!
    This foolish love was only day's first offer;
    I choose my next love to defy the scoffer:
    For do not our Bride and Bridegroom sally
    Out of Possagno church at noon?
    Their house looks over Orcana valley:
    Why should not I be the bride as soon
    As Ottima? For I saw, beside,
    Arrive last night that little bride--
    Saw, if you call it seeing her, one flash
    Of the pale snow-pure cheek and black bright tresses,
    Blacker than all except the black eyelash;
    I wonder she contrives those lids no dresses!
    --So strict was she, the veil
    Should cover close her pale
    Pure cheeks--a bride to look at and scarce touch,
    Scarce touch, remember, Jules! For are not such
    Used to be tended, flower-like, every feature,
    As if one's breath would fray the lily of a creature?
    A soft and easy life these ladies lead:
    Whiteness in us were wonderful indeed.
    Oh, save that brow its virgin dimness,
    Keep that foot its lady primness,
    Let those ankles never swerve
    From their exquisite reserve,
    Yet have to trip along the streets like me,
    All but naked to the knee!
    How will she ever grant her Jules a bliss
    So startling as her real first infant kiss?
    Oh, no--not envy, this!

    --Not envy, sure!--for if you gave me
    Leave to take or to refuse,
    In earnest, do you think I 'd choose
    That sort of new love to enslave me?
    Mine should have lapped me round from the beginning;
    As little fear of losing it as winning:
    Lovers grow cold, men learn to hate their wives,
    And only parents' love can last our lives.
    At eve the Son and Mother, gentle pair,
    Commune inside our turret: what prevents
    My being Luigi? While that mossy lair
    Of lizards through the winter-time is stirred
    With each to each imparting sweet intents
    For this new-year, as brooding bird to bird--
    (For I observe of late, the evening walk
    Of Luigi and his mother, always ends
    Inside our ruined turret, where they talk,
    Calmer than lovers, yet more kind than friends)
    --Let me be cared about, kept out of harm,
    And schemed for, safe in love as with a charm;
    Let me be Luigi! If I only knew
    What was my mother's face--my father, too!
      Nay, if you come to that, best love of all
    Is God's; then why not have God's love befall
    Myself as, in the palace by the Dome,
    Monsignor?--who to-night will bless the home
    Of his dead brother; and God bless in turn
    That heart which beats, those eyes which mildly burn
    With love for all men! I, to-night at least,
    Would be that holy and beloved priest.

    Now wait!--even I already seem to share
    In God's love: what does New-year's hymn declare?
    What other meaning do these verses bear?

      _All service ranks the same with God:
      If now, as formerly he trod
      Paradise, his presence fills
      Our earth, each only as God wills
      Can work--God's puppets, best and worst,
      Are we; there is no last nor first._

      _Say not "a small event!" Why "small"?
      Costs it more pain that this, ye call
      A "great event," should come to pass,
      Than that? Untwine me from the mass
      Of deeds which make up life, one deed
      Power shall fall short in or exceed!_

    And more of it, and more of it!--oh yes--
    I will pass each, and see their happiness,
    And envy none--being just as great, no doubt,
    Useful to men, and dear to God, as they!
    A pretty thing to care about
    So mightily, this single holiday!
    But let the sun shine! Wherefore repine?
    --With thee to lead me, O Day of mine,
    Down the grass path gray with dew,
    Under the pine-wood, blind with boughs,
    Where the swallow never flew
    Nor yet cicala dared carouse--
    No, dared carouse!                  [_She enters the street._


_Up the Hillside, inside the Shrub-house._ LUCA'S _Wife_ OTTIMA, _and
her Paramour, the German_ SEBALD.

    _Sebald._ [_sings._] _Let the watching lids wink!_
                          _Day's ablaze with eyes, think!_
                          _Deep into the night, drink!_

    _Ottima._ Night? Such may be your Rhine-land nights, perhaps;
    But this blood-red beam through the shutter's chink
    --We call such light, the morning: let us see!
    Mind how you grope your way, though! How these tall
    Naked geraniums straggle! Push the lattice
    Behind that frame!--Nay, do I bid you?--Sebald,
    It shakes the dust down on me! Why, of course
    The slide-bolt catches. Well, are you content,
    Or must I find you something else to spoil?
    Kiss and be friends, my Sebald! Is 't full morning?
    Oh, don't speak then!

    _Seb._                Ay, thus it used to be!
    Ever your house was, I remember, shut
    Till mid-day; I observed that, as I strolled
    On mornings through the vale here; country girls
    Were noisy, washing garments in the brook,
    Hinds drove the slow white oxen up the hills:
    But no, your house was mute, would ope no eye!
    And wisely: you were plotting one thing there,
    Nature, another outside. I looked up--
    Rough white wood shutters, rusty iron bars,
    Silent as death, blind in a flood of light.
    Oh, I remember!--and the peasants laughed
    And said, "The old man sleeps with the young wife."
    This house was his, this chair, this window--his.

    _Otti,_ Ah, the clear morning! I can see Saint Mark's;
    That black streak is the belfry. Stop: Vicenza
    Should lie ... there's Padua, plain enough, that blue!
    Look o'er my shoulder, follow my finger!

    _Seb._                                   Morning?
    It seems to me a night with a sun added.
    Where 's dew, where 's freshness? That bruised plant, I bruised
    In getting through the lattice yestereve,
    Droops as it did. See, here 's my elbow's mark
    I' the dust o' the sill.

    _Otti._                  Oh, shut the lattice, pray!

    _Seb._ Let me lean out. I cannot scent blood here,
    Foul as the morn may be.
                             There, shut the world out!
    How do you feel now, Ottima? There, curse
    The world and all outside! Let us throw off
    This mask: how do you bear yourself? Let 's out
    With all of it!

    _Otti._         Best never speak of it.

    _Seb._ Best speak again and yet again of it,
    Till words cease to be more than words. "His blood,"
    For instance--let those two words mean, "His blood"
    And nothing more. Notice, I 'll say them now,
    "His blood."

    _Otti._      Assuredly if I repented
    The deed--

    _Seb._      Repent? Who should repent, or why?
    What puts that in your head? Did I once say
    That I repented?

    _Otti._          No; I said the deed ...

    _Seb._ "The deed" and "the event"--just now it was
    "Our passion's fruit"--the devil take such cant!
    Say, once and always, Luca was a wittol,
    I am his cut-throat, you are ...

    _Otti._                          Here 's the wine;
    I brought it when we left the house above,
    And glasses too--wine of both sorts. Black? White then?

    _Seb._ But am not I his cut-throat? What are you?

    _Otti._ There trudges on his business from the Duomo
    Benet the Capuchin, with his brown hood
    And bare feet; always in one place at church,
    Close under the stone wall by the south entry.
    I used to take him for a brown cold piece
    Of the wall's self, as out of it he rose
    To let me pass--at first, I say, I used:
    Now, so has that dumb figure fastened on me,
    I rather should account the plastered wall
    A piece of him, so chilly does it strike.
    This, Sebald?

    _Seb._        No, the white wine--the white wine!
    Well, Ottima, I promised no new year
    Should rise on us the ancient shameful way;
    Nor does it rise. Pour on! To your black eyes!
    Do you remember last damned New Year's day?

    _Otti._ You brought those foreign prints. We looked at them
    Over the wine and fruit. I had to scheme
    To get him from the fire. Nothing but saying
    His own set wants the proof-mark, roused him up
    To hunt them out.

    _Seb._            'Faith, he is not alive
    To fondle you before my face.

    _Otti._                       Do you
    Fondle me then! Who means to take your life
    For that, my Sebald?

    _Seb._               Hark you, Ottima!
    One thing to guard against. We 'll not make much
    One of the other--that is, not make more
    Parade of warmth, childish officious coil,
    Than yesterday: as if, sweet, I supposed
    Proof upon proof were needed now, now first,
    To show I love you--yes, still love you--love you
    In spite of Luca and what 's come to him
    --Sure sign we had him ever in our thoughts,
    White sneering old reproachful face and all!
    We 'll even quarrel, love, at times, as if
    We still could lose each other, were not tied
    By this: conceive you?

    _Otti._                Love!

    _Seb._                       Not tied so sure!
    Because though I was wrought upon, have struck
    His insolence back into him--am I
    So surely yours?--therefore forever yours?

    _Otti._ Love, to be wise, (one counsel pays another,)
    Should we have--months ago, when first we loved,
    For instance that May morning we two stole
    Under the green ascent of sycamores--
    If we had come upon a thing like that
    Suddenly ...

    _Seb._       "A thing"--there again--"a thing!"

    _Otti._ Then, Venus' body, had we come upon
    My husband Luca Gaddi's murdered corpse
    Within there, at his couch-foot, covered close--
    Would you have pored upon it? Why persist
    In poring now upon it? For 't is here
    As much as there in the deserted house:
    You cannot rid your eyes of it. For me,
    Now he is dead I hate him worse: I hate ...
    Dare you stay here? I would go back and hold
    His two dead hands, and say, "I hate you worse,
    Luca, than" ...

    _Seb._          Off, off--take your hands off mine,
    'T is the hot evening--off! oh, morning is it?

    _Otti._ There 's one thing must be done; you know what thing.
    Come in and help to carry. We may sleep
    Anywhere in the whole wide house to-night.

    _Seb._ What would come, think you, if we let him lie
    Just as he is? Let him lie there until
    The angels take him! He is turned by this
    Off from his face beside, as you will see.

    _Otti._ This dusty pane might serve for looking-glass.
    Three, four--four gray hairs! Is it so you said
    A plait of hair should wave across my neck?
    No--this way.

    _Seb._        Ottima, I would give your neck,
    Each splendid shoulder, both those breasts of yours,
    That this were undone! Killing! Kill the world,
    So Luca lives again!--ay, lives to sputter
    His fulsome dotage on you--yes, and feign
    Surprise that I return at eve to sup,
    When all the morning I was loitering here--
    Bid me dispatch my business and begone.
    I would ...

    _Otti._     See!

    _Seb._           No, I 'll finish. Do you think
    I fear to speak the bare truth once for all?
    All we have talked of, is, at bottom, fine
    To suffer; there 's a recompense in guilt;
    One must be venturous and fortunate:
    What is one young for, else? In age we 'll sigh
    O'er the wild reckless wicked days flown over;
    Still, we have lived: the vice was in its place.
    But to have eaten Luca's bread, have worn
    His clothes, have felt his money swell my purse--
    Do lovers in romances sin that way?
    Why, I was starving when I used to call
    And teach you music, starving while you plucked me
    These flowers to smell!

    _Otti._                 My poor lost friend!

    _Seb._                                       He gave me
    Life, nothing less: what if he did reproach
    My perfidy, and threaten, and do more--
    Had he no right? What was to wonder at?
    He sat by us at table quietly:
    Why must you lean across till our cheeks touched?
    Could he do less than make pretence to strike?
    'T is not the crime's sake--I 'd commit ten crimes
    Greater, to have this crime wiped out, undone!
    And you--O how feel you? Feel you for me?

    _Otti._ Well then, I love you better now than ever,
    And best (look at me while I speak to you)--
    Best for the crime; nor do I grieve, in truth,
    This mask, this simulated ignorance,
    This affectation of simplicity,
    Falls off our crime; this naked crime of ours
    May not now be looked over: look it down!
    Great? let it be great; but the joys it brought,
    Pay they or no its price? Come: they or it!
    Speak not! The past, would you give up the past
    Such as it is, pleasure and crime together?
    Give up that noon I owned my love for you?
    The garden's silence: even the single bee
    Persisting in his toil, suddenly stopped,
    And where he hid you only could surmise
    By some campanula chalice set a-swing.
    Who stammered--"Yes, I love you?"

    _Seb._                            And I drew
    Back; put far back your face with both my hands
    Lest you should grow too full of me--your face
    So seemed athirst for my whole soul and body!

    _Otti._ And when I ventured to receive you here,
    Made you steal hither in the mornings--

    _Seb._                                  When
    I used to look up 'neath the shrub-house here,
    Till the red fire on its glazed windows spread
    To a yellow haze?

    _Otti._           Ah--my sign was, the sun
    Inflamed the sere side of yon chestnut-tree
    Nipped by the first frost.

    _Seb._                     You would always laugh
    At my wet boots: I had to stride through grass
    Over my ankles.

    _Otti._         Then our crowning night!

    _Seb._ The July night?

    _Otti._                     The day of it too, Sebald!
    When heaven's pillars seemed o'erbowed with heat,
    Its black-blue canopy suffered descend
    Close on us both, to weigh down each to each,
    And smother up all life except our life.
    So lay we till the storm came.

    _Seb._                         How it came!

    _Otti._ Buried in woods we lay, you recollect;
    Swift ran the searching tempest overhead;
    And ever and anon some bright white shaft
    Burned through the pine-tree roof, here burned and there,
    As if God's messenger through the close wood screen
    Plunged and replunged his weapon at a venture,
    Feeling for guilty thee and me: then broke
    The thunder like a whole sea overhead--

    _Seb._ Yes!

    _Otti._--While I stretched myself upon you, hands
    To hands, my mouth to your hot mouth, and shook
    All my locks loose, and covered you with them--
    You, Sebald, the same you!

    _Seb._                     Slower, Ottima!

    _Otti._ And as we lay--

    _Seb._                       Less vehemently! Love me!
    Forgive me! Take not words, mere words, to heart!
    Your breath is worse than wine. Breathe slow, speak slow!
    Do not lean on me!

    _Otti._            Sebald, as we lay,
    Rising and falling only with our pants,
    Who said, "Let death come now! 'Tis right to die!
    Right to be punished! Naught completes such bliss
    But woe!" Who said that?

    _Seb._                   How did we ever rise?
    Was 't that we slept? Why did it end?

    _Otti._                               I felt you
    Taper into a point the ruffled ends
    Of my loose locks 'twixt both your humid lips.
    My hair is fallen now: knot it again!

    _Seb._ I kiss you now, dear Ottima, now and now!
    This way? Will you forgive me--be once more
    My great queen?

    _Otti._         Bind it thrice about my brow;
    Crown me your queen, your spirit's arbitress,
    Magnificent in sin. Say that!

    _Seb._                        I crown you
    My great white queen, my spirit's arbitress,
    Magnificent ...

          [_From without is heard the voice of_ PIPPA _singing_--

        _The year's at the spring
        And day's at the morn;
        Morning's at seven;
        The hillside's dew-pearled;
        The lark's on the wing;
        The snail's on the thorn:
        God's in his heaven--
        All's right with the world!_   [PIPPA _passes._

    _Seb._ God's in his heaven! Do you hear that? Who spoke?
    You, you spoke!

    _Otti._         Oh--that little ragged girl!
    She must have rested on the step: we give them
    But this one holiday the whole year round.
    Did you ever see our silk-mills--their inside?
    There are ten silk-mills now belong to you.
    She stoops to pick my double heartsease ... Sh!
    She does not hear: call you out louder!

    _Seb._                                  Leave me!
    Go, get your clothes on--dress those shoulders!

    _Otti._                                         Sebald?

    _Seb._ Wipe off that paint! I hate you.

    _Otti._                                 Miserable!

    _Seb._ My God, and she is emptied of it now!
    Outright now!--how miraculously gone
    All of the grace--had she not strange grace once?
    Why, the blank cheek hangs listless as it likes,
    No purpose holds the features up together,
    Only the cloven brow and puckered chin
    Stay in their places: and the very hair,
    That seemed to have a sort of life in it,
    Drops, a dead web!

    _Otti._            Speak to me--not of me!

    _Seb._--That round great full-orbed face, where not an angle
    Broke the delicious indolence--all broken!

    _Otti._ To me--not of me! Ungrateful, perjured cheat!
    A coward too: but ingrate's worse than all!
    Beggar--my slave--a fawning, cringing lie!
    Leave me! Betray me! I can see your drift!
    A lie that walks and eats and drinks!

    _Seb._                                My God!
    Those morbid olive faultless shoulder-blades--
    I should have known there was no blood beneath!

    _Otti._ You hate me then? You hate me then?

    _Seb._                                      To think
    She would succeed in her absurd attempt,
    And fascinate by sinning, show herself
    Superior--guilt from its excess superior
    To innocence! That little peasant's voice
    Has righted all again. Though I be lost,
    I know which is the better, never fear,
    Of vice or virtue, purity or lust,
    Nature or trick! I see what I have done,
    Entirely now! Oh I am proud to feel
    Such torments--let the world take credit thence--
    I, having done my deed, pay too its price!
    I hate, hate--curse you! God's in his heaven!

    _Otti._                                       --Me!
    Me! no, no, Sebald, not yourself--kill me!
    Mine is the whole crime. Do but kill me--then
    Yourself--then--presently--first hear me speak!
    I always meant to kill myself--wait, you!
    Lean on my breast--not as a breast; don't love me
    The more because you lean on me, my own
    Heart's Sebald! There, there, both deaths presently!

    _Seb._ My brain is drowned now--quite drowned: all I feel
    Is ... is, at swift-recurring intervals,
    A hurry-down within me, as of waters
    Loosened to smother up some ghastly pit:
    There they go--whirls from a black fiery sea!

_Otti._ Not me--to him, O God, be merciful!

_Talk by the way, while_ PIPPA _is passing from the hillside to Oreana.
Foreign Students of painting and sculpture, from Venice, assembled
opposite the house of_ JULES, _a young French statuary, at Passagno._

_1st Student._ Attention! My own post is beneath this window, but the
pomegranate clump yonder will hide three or four of you with a little
squeezing, and Schramm and his pipe must lie flat in the balcony. Four,
five--who's a defaulter? We want everybody, for Jules must not be
suffered to hurt his bride when the jest's found out.

_2d Stud._ All here! Only our poet's away--never having much meant to
be present, moonstrike him! The airs of that fellow, that Giovacchino!
He was in violent love with himself, and had a fair prospect of
thriving in his suit, so unmolested was it,--when suddenly a woman
falls in love with him, too; and out of pure jealousy he takes himself
off to Trieste, immortal poem and all: whereto is this prophetical
epitaph appended already, as Bluphocks assures me,--"_Here a
mammoth-poem lies, Fouled to death by butterflies._" His own fault,
the simpleton! Instead of cramp couplets, each like a knife in your
entrails, he should write, says Bluphocks, both classically and
intelligibly.--_Æsculapius, an Epic. Catalogue of the drugs: Hebe's
plaister--One strip Cools your lip. Phœbus' emulsion--One bottle Clears
your throttle. Mercury's bolus--One box Cures ..._

_3d Stud._ Subside, my fine fellow! If the marriage was over by ten
o'clock, Jules will certainly be here in a minute with his bride.

_2d Stud._ Good!--only, so should the poet's muse have been universally
acceptable, says Bluphocks, _et canibus nostris_ ... and Delia not
better known to our literary dogs than the boy Giovacchino!

_1st Stud._ To the point, now. Where's Gottlieb, the new-comer?
Oh,--listen, Gottlieb, to what has called down this piece of friendly
vengeance on Jules, of which we now assemble to witness the winding-up.
We are all agreed, all in a tale, observe, when Jules shall burst
out on us in a fury by and by: I am spokesman--the verses that are
to undeceive Jules bear my name of Lutwyche--but each professes
himself alike insulted by this strutting stone-squarer, who came along
from Paris to Munich, and thence with a crowd of us to Venice and
Possagno here, but proceeds in a day or two alone again--oh, alone
indubitably!--to Rome and Florence. He, forsooth, take up his portion
with these dissolute, brutalized, heartless bunglers!--so he was heard
to call us all. Now, is Schramm brutalized, I should like to know? Am I

_Gottlieb._ Why, somewhat heartless; for, suppose Jules a coxcomb as
much as you choose, still, for this mere coxcombry, you will have
brushed off--what do folks style it?--the bloom of his life. Is it too
late to alter? These love-letters now, you call his--I can't laugh at

_4th Stud._ Because you never read the sham letters of our inditing
which drew forth these.

_Gott._ His discovery of the truth will be frightful.

_4th Stud._ That's the joke. But you should have joined us at the
beginning: there's no doubt he loves the girl--loves a model he might
hire by the hour!

_Gott._ See here! "He has been accustomed," he writes, "to have
Canova's women about him, in stone, and the world's women beside
him, in flesh; these being as much below, as those above, his soul's
aspiration: but now he is to have the reality." There you laugh again!
I say, you wipe off the very dew of his youth.

_1st Stud._ Schramm! (Take the pipe out of his mouth, somebody!) Will
Jules lose the bloom of his youth?

_Schramm._ Nothing worth keeping is ever lost in this world: look at
a blossom--it drops presently, having done its service and lasted its
time; but fruits succeed, and where would be the blossom's place could
it continue? As well affirm that your eye is no longer in your body,
because its earliest favorite, whatever it may have first loved to
look on, is dead and done with--as that any affection is lost to the
soul when its first object, whatever happened first to satisfy it,
is superseded in due course. Keep but ever looking, whether with the
body's eye or the mind's, and you will soon find something to look
on! Has a man done wondering at women?--there follow men, dead and
alive, to wonder at. Has he done wondering at men?--there's God to
wonder at: and the faculty of wonder may be, at the same time, old and
tired enough with respect to its first object, and yet young and fresh
sufficiently, so far as concerns its novel one. Thus ...

_1st Stud._ Put Schramm's pipe into his mouth again! There, you
see! Well, this Jules ... a wretched fribble--oh, I watched his
disportings at Possagno, the other day! Canova's gallery--you
know: there he marches first resolvedly past great works by the
dozen without vouchsafing an eye: all at once he stops full at the
_Psiche-fanciulla_--cannot pass that old acquaintance without a nod
of encouragement--"In your new place, beauty? Then behave yourself as
well here as at Munich--I see you!" Next he posts himself deliberately
before the unfinished _Pietà_ for half an hour without moving, till
up he starts of a sudden, and thrusts his very nose into--I say,
into--the group; by which gesture you are informed that precisely the
sole point he had not fully mastered in Canova's practice was a certain
method of using the drill in the articulation of the knee-joint--and
that, likewise, has he mastered at length! Good-by, therefore, to poor
Canova--whose gallery no longer needs detain his successor Jules, the
predestinated novel thinker in marble!

_5th Stud._ Tell him about the women: go on to the women!

_1st Stud._ Why, on that matter he could never be supercilious enough.
How should we be other (he said) than the poor devils you see, with
those debasing habits we cherish? He was not to wallow in that mire, at
least: he would wait, and love only at the proper time, and meanwhile
put up with the _Psiche-fanciulla_. Now, I happened to hear of a young
Greek--real Greek girl at Malamocco; a true Islander, do you see, with
Alciphron's "hair like sea-moss"--Schramm knows!--white and quiet as an
apparition, and fourteen years old at farthest,--a daughter of Natalia,
so she swears--that hag Natalia, who helps us to models at three _lire_
an hour. We selected this girl for the heroine of our jest. So first,
Jules received a scented letter--somebody had seen his Tydeus at the
Academy, and my picture was nothing to it: a profound admirer bade
him persevere--would make herself known to him ere long. (Paolina,
my little friend of the _Fenice_, transcribes divinely.) And in due
time, the mysterious correspondent gave certain hints of her peculiar
charms--the pale cheeks, the black hair--whatever, in short, had struck
us in our Malamocco model: we retained her name, too--Phene, which
is, by interpretation, sea-eagle. Now, think of Jules finding himself
distinguished from the herd of us by such a creature! In his very first
answer he proposed marrying his monitress: and fancy us over these
letters, two, three times a day, to receive and dispatch! I concocted
the main of it: relations were in the way--secrecy must be observed--in
fine, would he wed her on trust, and only speak to her when they were
indissolubly united? St--st--Here they come!

_6th Stud._ Both of them! Heaven's love, speak softly, speak within

_5th Stud._ Look at the bridegroom! Half his hair in storm and half in
calm,--patted down over the left temple,--like a frothy cup one blows
on to cool it: and the same old blouse that he murders the marble in.

_2d Stud._ Not a rich vest like yours, Hannibal Scratchy!--rich, that
your face may the better set it off.

_6th Stud._ And the bride! Yes, sure enough, our Phene! Should you have
known her in her clothes? How magnificently pale!

_Gott._ She does not also take it for earnest, I hope?

_1st Stud._ Oh, Natalia's concern, that is! We settle with Natalia.

_6th Stud._ She does not speak--has evidently let out no word. The only
thing is, will she equally remember the rest of her lesson, and repeat
correctly all those verses which are to break the secret to Jules?

_Gott._ How he gazes on her! Pity--pity!

_1st Stud._ They go in: now, silence! You three,--not nearer the
window, mind, than that pomegranate: just where the little girl, who a
few minutes ago passed us singing, is seated!


_Over Orcana. The house of_ JULES, _who crosses its threshold with_
PHENE: _she is silent, on which_ JULES _begins_--

    Do not die, Phene! I am yours now, you
    Are mine now; let fate reach me how she likes,
    If you 'll not die: so, never die! Sit here--
    My work-room's single seat. I over-lean
    This length of hair and lustrous front; they turn
    Like an entire flower upward: eyes, lips, last
    Your chin--no, last your throat turns: 't is their scent
    Pulls down my face upon you. Nay, look ever
    This one way till I change, grow you--I could
    Change into you, beloved!

                              You by me,
    And I by you; this is your hand in mine,
    And side by side we sit: all 's true. Thank God!
    I have spoken: speak you!
                              O my life to come!
    My Tydeus must be carved that 's there in clay;
    Yet how be carved, with you about the room?
    Where must I place you? When I think that once
    This room-full of rough block-work seemed my heaven
    Without you! Shall I ever work again,
    Get fairly into my old ways again,
    Bid each conception stand while, trait by trait,
    My hand transfers its lineaments to stone?
    Will my mere fancies live near you, their truth--
    The live truth, passing and repassing me,
    Sitting beside me?
                       Now speak!
                                  Only first,
    See, all your letters! Was 't not well contrived?
    Their hiding-place is Psyche's robe; she keeps
    Your letters next her skin: which drops out foremost?
    Ah,--this that swam down like a first moonbeam
    Into my world!
                   Again those eyes complete
    Their melancholy survey, sweet and slow,
    Of all my room holds; to return and rest
    On me, with pity, yet some wonder too:
    As if God bade some spirit plague a world,
    And this were the one moment of surprise
    And sorrow while she took her station, pausing
    O'er what she sees, finds good, and must destroy!
    What gaze you at? Those? Books, I told you of;
    Let your first word to me rejoice them, too:
    This minion, a Coluthus, writ in red,
    Bistre and azure by Bessarion's scribe--
    Read this line ... no, shame--Homer's be the Greek
    First breathed me from the lips of my Greek girl!
    This Odyssey in coarse black vivid type
    With faded yellow blossoms 'twixt page and page,
    To mark great places with due gratitude;
    "_He said, and on Antinous directed
    A bitter shaft_" ... a flower blots out the rest!
    Again upon your search? My statues, then!
    --Ah, do not mind that--better that will look
    When cast in bronze--an Almaign Kaiser, that,
    Swart-green and gold, with truncheon based on hip.
    This, rather, turn to! What, unrecognized?
    I thought you would have seen that here you sit
    As I imagined you,--Hippolyta,
    Naked upon her bright Numidian horse.
    Recall you this then? "Carve in bold relief"--
    So you commanded--"carve, against I come,
    A Greek, in Athens, as our fashion was,
    Feasting, bay-filleted and thunder-free,
    Who rises 'neath the lifted myrtle-branch.
    'Praise those who slew Hipparchus!' cry the guests,
    'While o'er thy head the singer's myrtle waves
    As erst above our champion: stand up, all!'"
    See, I have labored to express your thought.
    Quite round, a cluster of mere hands and arms
    (Thrust in all senses, all ways, from all sides,
    Only consenting at the branch's end
    They strain toward) serves for frame to a sole face,
    The Praiser's, in the centre: who with eyes
    Sightless, so bend they back to light inside
    His brain where visionary forms throng up,
    Sings, minding not that palpitating arch
    Of hands and arms, nor the quick drip of wine
    From the drenched leaves o'erhead, nor crowns cast off,
    Violet and parsley crowns to trample on--
    Sings, pausing as the patron-ghosts approve,
    Devoutly their unconquerable hymn.
    But you must say a "well" to that--say "well!"
    Because you gaze--am I fantastic, sweet?
    Gaze like my very life's-stuff, marble--marbly
    Even to the silence! Why, before I found
    The real flesh Phene, I inured myself
    To see, throughout all nature, varied stuff
    For better nature's birth by means of art:
    With me, each substance tended to one form
    Of beauty--to the human archetype.
    On every side occurred suggestive germs
    Of that--the tree, the flower--or take the fruit,--
    Some rosy shape, continuing the peach,
    Curved beewise o'er its bough; as rosy limbs,
    Depending, nestled in the leaves; and just
    From a cleft rose-peach the whole Dryad sprang.
    But of the stuffs one can be master of,
    How I divined their capabilities!
    From the soft-rinded smoothening facile chalk
    That yields your outline to the air's embrace,
    Half-softened by a halo's pearly gloom;
    Down to the crisp imperious steel, so sure
    To cut its one confided thought clean out
    Of all the world. But marble!--'neath my tools
    More pliable than jelly--as it were
    Some clear primordial creature dug from depths
    In the earth's heart, where itself breeds itself,
    And whence all baser substance may be worked;
    Refine it off to air, you may,--condense it
    Down to the diamond;--is not metal there,
    When o'er the sudden speck my chisel trips?
    --Not flesh, as flake off flake I scale, approach,
    Lay bare those bluish veins of blood asleep?
    Lurks flame in no strange windings where, surprised
    By the swift implement sent home at once,
    Flushes and glowings radiate and hover
    About its track?
                     Phene? what--why is this?
    That whitening cheek, those still dilating eyes!
    Ah, you will die--I knew that you would die!

PHENE _begins, on his having long remained silent._

    Now the end's coming; to be sure, it must
    Have ended sometime! Tush, why need I speak
    Their foolish speech? I cannot bring to mind
    One half of it, beside; and do not care
    For old Natalia now, nor any of them.
    Oh, you--what are you?--if I do not try
    To say the words Natalia made me learn,
    To please your friends,--it is to keep myself
    Where your voice lifted me, by letting that
    Proceed: but can it? Even you, perhaps,
    Cannot take up, now you have once let fall,
    The music's life, and me along with that--
    No, or you would! We'll stay, then, as we are:
    Above the world.
                     You creature with the eyes!
    If I could look forever up to them,
    As now you let me,--I believe, all sin,
    All memory of wrong done, suffering borne,
    Would drop down, low and lower, to the earth
    Whence all that's low comes, and there touch and stay
    --Never to overtake the rest of me,
    All that, unspotted, reaches up to you,
    Drawn by those eyes! What rises is myself,
    Not me the shame and suffering; but they sink,
    Are left, I rise above them. Keep me so,
    Above the world!
                     But you sink, for your eyes
    Are altering--altered! Stay--"I love you, love" ...
    I could prevent it if I understood:
    More of your words to me: was 't in the tone
    Or the words, your power?
                              Or stay--I will repeat
    Their speech, if that contents you! Only change
    No more, and I shall find it presently
    Far back here, in the brain yourself filled up.
    Natalia threatened me that harm should follow
    Unless I spoke their lesson to the end,
    But harm to me, I thought she meant, not you.
    Your friends,--Natalia said they were your friends
    And meant you well,--because, I doubted it,
    Observing (what was very strange to see)
    On every face, so different in all else,
    The same smile girls like me are used to bear,
    But never men, men cannot stoop so low;
    Yet your friends, speaking of you, used that smile,
    That hateful smirk of boundless self-conceit
    Which seems to take possession of the world
    And make of God a tame confederate,
    Purveyor to their appetites ... you know!
    But still Natalia said they were your friends,
    And they assented though they smiled the more,
    And all came round me,--that thin Englishman
    With light lank hair seemed leader of the rest;
    He held a paper--"What we want," said he,
    Ending some explanation to his friends--
    "Is something slow, involved and mystical,
    To hold Jules long in doubt, yet take his taste
    And lure him on until, at innermost
    Where he seeks sweetness' soul, he may find--this!
    --As in the apple's core, the noisome fly:
    For insects on the rind are seen at once,
    And brushed aside as soon, but this is found
    Only when on the lips or loathing tongue."
    And so he read what I have got by heart:
    I'll speak it,--"Do not die, love! I am yours" ...
    No--is not that, or like that, part of words
    Yourself began by speaking? Strange to lose
    What cost such pains to learn! Is this more right?

      _I am a painter who cannot paint;
      In my life, a devil rather than saint;
      In my brain, as poor a creature too:
      No end to all I cannot do!
      Yet do one thing at least I can--
      Love a man or hate a man
      Supremely: thus my lore began.
      Through the Valley of Love I went,
      In the lovingest spot to abide,
      And just on the verge where I pitched my tent,
      I found Hate dwelling beside.
      (Let the Bridegroom ask what the painter meant,
      Of his Bride, of the peerless Bride!)
      And further, I traversed Hate's grove,
      In the hatefullest nook to dwell;
      But lo, where I flung myself prone, couched Love
      Where the shadow threefold fell.
      (The meaning--those black bride's-eyes above,
      Not a painter's lip should tell!)_

    "And here," said he, "Jules probably will ask,
    'You have black eyes, Love,--you are, sure enough,
    My peerless bride,--then do you tell indeed
    What needs some explanation! What means this?'"
    --And I am to go on, "without a word--

      _So, I grew wise in Love and Hate,
      From simple that I was of late.
      Once, when I loved, I would enlace
      Breast, eyelids, hands, feet, form and face
      Of her I loved, in one embrace--
      As if by mere love I could love immensely!
      Once, when I hated, I would plunge
      My sword, and wipe with the first lunge
      My foe's whole life out like a sponge--
      As if by mere hate I could hate intensely!
      But now I am wiser, know better the fashion
      How passion seeks aid from its opposite passion:
      And if I see cause to love more, hate more
      Than ever man loved, ever hated before--
      And seek in the Valley of Love
      The nest, or the nook in Hate's Grove
      Where my soul may surely reach
      The essence, naught less, of each,
      The Hate of all Hates, the Love
      Of all Loves, in the Valley or Grove,--
      I find them the very warders
      Each of the other's borders.
      When I love most, Love is disguised
      In Hate; and when Hate is surprised
      In Love, then I hate most: ask
      How Love smiles through Hate's iron casque,
      Hate grins through Love's rose-braided mask,--
      And how, having hated thee,
      I sought long and painfully
      To reach thy heart, nor prick
      The skin but pierce to the quick--
      Ask this, my Jules, and be answered straight
      By thy bride--how the painter Lutwyche can hate!_

JULES _interposes._

    Lutwyche! Who else? But all of them, no doubt,
    Hated me: they at Venice--presently
    Their turn, however! You I shall not meet:
    If I dreamed, saying this would wake me.
    What's here, the gold--we cannot meet again,
    Consider! and the money was but meant
    For two years' travel, which is over now,
    All chance or hope or care or need of it.
    This--and what comes from selling these, my casts
    And books and medals, except ... let them go
    Together, so the produce keeps you safe
    Out of Natalia's clutches! If by chance
    (For all's chance here) I should survive the gang
    At Venice, root out all fifteen of them,
    We might meet somewhere, since the world is wide.

         [_From without is heard the voice of_ PIPPA, _singing--_

    _Give her but a least excuse to love me!
    How--can this arm establish her above me,
    If fortune fixed her as my lady there,
    There already, to eternally reprove me?
    ("Hist!"--said Kate the Queen;
    But "Oh!" cried the maiden, binding her tresses,
    "'T is only a page that carols unseen,
    Crumbling your hounds their messes!")_

    _Is she wronged?--To the rescue of her honor,
    My heart!
    Is she poor?--What costs it to be styled a donor?
    Merely an earth to cleave, a sea to part.
    But that fortune should have thrust all this upon her!
    ("Nay, list!"--bade Kate the Queen;
    And still cried the maiden, binding her tresses,
    "'T is only a page that carols unseen,
    Fitting your hawks their jesses!")_          [PIPPA _passes._

JULES _resumes._

    What name was that the little girl sang forth?
    Kate? The Cornaro, doubtless, who renounced
    The crown of Cyprus to be lady here
    At Asolo, where still her memory stays,
    And peasants sing how once a certain page
    Pined for the grace of her so far above
    His power of doing good to, "Kate the Queen--
    She never could be wronged, be poor," he sighed,
    "Need him to help her!"
                            Yes, a bitter thing
    To see our lady above all need of us;
    Yet so we look ere we will love; not I,
    But the world looks so. If whoever loves
    Must be, in some sort, god or worshipper,
    The blessing or the blest one, queen or page,
    Why should we always choose the page's part?
    Here is a woman with utter need of me,--
    I find myself queen here, it seems!
                                        How strange!
    Look at the woman here with the new soul,
    Like my own Psyche,--fresh upon her lips
    Alit, the visionary butterfly,
    Waiting my word to enter and make bright,
    Or flutter off and leave all blank as first.
    This body had no soul before, but slept
    Or stirred, was beauteous or ungainly, free
    From taint or foul with stain, as outward things
    Fastened their image on its passiveness:
    Now, it will wake, feel, live--or die again!
    Shall to produce form out of unshaped stuff
    Be Art--and further, to evoke a soul
    From form be nothing? This new soul is mine!

    Now, to kill Lutwyche, what would that do?--save
    A wretched dauber, men will hoot to death
    Without me, from their hooting. Oh, to hear
    God's voice plain as I heard it first, before
    They broke in with their laughter! I heard them
    Henceforth, not God.
                         To Ancona--Greece--some isle!
    I wanted silence only; there is clay
    Everywhere. One may do whate'er one likes
    In Art: the only thing is, to make sure
    That one does like it--which takes pains to know.
      Scatter all this, my Phene--this mad dream!
    Who, what is Lutwyche, what Natalia's friends,
    What the whole world except our love--my own,
    Own Phene? But I told you, did I not,
    Ere night we travel for your land--some isle
    With the sea's silence on it? Stand aside--
    I do but break these paltry models up
    To begin Art afresh. Meet Lutwyche, I--
    And save him from my statue meeting him?
    Some unsuspected isle in the far seas!
    Like a god going through his world, there stands
    One mountain for a moment in the dusk,
    Whole brotherhoods of cedars on its brow:
    And you are ever by me while I gaze
    --Are in my arms as now--as now--as now!
    Some unsuspected isle in the far seas!
    Some unsuspected isle in far-off seas!

_Talk by the way, while_ PIPPA _is passing from Orcana to the Turret.
Two or three of the Austrian Police loitering with_ BLUPHOCKS, _an
English vagabond, just in view of the Turret._

_Bluphocks._[3] So, that is your Pippa, the little girl who passed
us singing? Well, your Bishop's Intendant's money shall be honestly
earned:--now, don't make me that sour face because I bring the Bishop's
name into the business; we know he can have nothing to do with such
horrors: we know that he is a saint and all that a bishop should be,
who is a great man beside. _Oh were but every worm a maggot, Every fly
a grig, Every bough a Christmas fagot, Every tune a jig!_ In fact,
I have abjured all religions; but the last I inclined to was the
Armenian: for I have travelled, do you see, and at Koenigsberg, Prussia
Improper (so styled because there's a sort of bleak hungry sun there),
you might remark, over a venerable house-porch, a certain Chaldee
inscription; and brief as it is, a mere glance at it used absolutely
to change the mood of every bearded passenger. In they turned, one
and all; the young and lightsome, with no irreverent pause, the aged
and decrepit, with a sensible alacrity: 't was the Grand Rabbi's
abode, in short. Struck with curiosity, I lost no time in learning
Syriac--(these are vowels, you dogs,--follow my stick's end in the
mud--_Celarent, Darii, Ferio!_) and one morning presented myself,
spelling-book in hand, a, b, c,--I picked it out letter by letter, and
what was the purport of this miraculous posy? Some cherished legend
of the past, you'll say--"_How Moses hocus-pocussed Egypt's land with
fly and locust,_"--or, "_How to Jonah sounded harshish, Get thee up
and go to Tarshish_,"--or "_How the angel meeting Balaam, Straight his
ass returned a salaam_." In no wise! "_Shackabrack--Boach--somebody
or other--Isaach, Re-cei-ver, Pur-cha-ser and Ex-chan-ger of--Stolen
Goods!_" So, talk to me of the religion of a bishop! I have renounced
all bishops save Bishop Beveridge!--mean to live so--and die--_As some
Greek dog-sage, dead and merry, Hellward bound in Charon's wherry, With
food for both worlds, under and upper, Lupine-seed and Hecate's supper,
And never an obolus_ ... (though thanks to you, or this Intendant
through you, or this Bishop through his Intendant--I possess a burning
pocket-full of _zwanzigers_) ... _To pay the Stygian Ferry!_

_1st Policeman._ There is the girl, then; go and deserve them the
moment you have pointed out to us Signor Luigi and his mother. [_To the
rest._] I have been noticing a house yonder, this long while: not a
shutter unclosed since morning!

_2d Pol._ Old Luca Gaddi's, that owns the silk-mills here: he dozes
by the hour, wakes up, sighs deeply, says he should like to be Prince
Metternich, and then dozes again, after having bidden young Sebald,
the foreigner, set his wife to playing draughts. Never molest such a
household, they mean well.

_Blup._ Only, cannot you tell me something of this little Pippa, I must
have to do with? One could make something of that name. Pippa--that is,
short for Felippa--rhyming to _Panurge consults Hertrippa--Believest
thou, King Agrippa?_ Something might be done with that name.

_2d Pol._ Put into rhyme that your head and a ripe muskmelon would not
be dear at half a _zwanziger!_ Leave this fooling, and look out; the
afternoon's over or nearly so.

_3d Pol._ Where in this passport of Signor Luigi does our Principal
instruct you to watch him so narrowly? There? What's there beside a
simple signature? (That English fool's busy watching.)

_2d Pol._ Flourish all round--"Put all possible obstacles in his
way;" oblong dot at the end--"Detain him till further advices
reach you;" scratch at bottom--"Send him back on pretence of some
informality in the above;" ink-spirt on righthand side (which is the
case here)--"Arrest him at once." Why and wherefore, I don't concern
myself, but my instructions amount to this: if Signor Luigi leaves home
to-night for Vienna--well and good, the passport deposed with us for
our _visa_ is really for his own use, they have misinformed the Office,
and he means well; but let him stay over to-night--there has been the
pretence we suspect, the accounts of his corresponding and holding
intelligence with the Carbonari are correct, we arrest him at once,
to-morrow comes Venice, and presently Spielberg. Bluphocks makes the
signal, sure enough! That is he, entering the turret with his mother,
no doubt.


[Footnote 3: "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."]


_Inside the Turret on the Hill above Asolo._ LUIGI _and his_ MOTHER

    _Mother._ If there blew wind, you'd hear a long sigh, easing
    The utmost heaviness of music's heart.

    _Luigi._ Here in the archway?

    _Mother._                     Oh no, no--in farther,
    Where the echo is made, on the ridge.

    _Luigi._                              Here surely, then.
    How plain the tap of my heel as I leaped up!
    Hark--"Lucius Junius!" The very ghost of a voice
    Whose body is caught and kept by ... what are those?
    Mere withered wallflowers, waving overhead?
    They seem an elvish group with thin bleached hair
    That lean out of their topmost fortress--look
    And listen, mountain men, to what we say,
    Hand under chin of each grave earthy face.
    Up and show faces all of you!--"All of you!"
    That 's the king dwarf with the scarlet comb; old Franz,
    Come down and meet your fate? Hark--"Meet your fate!"

    _Mother._ Let him not meet it, my Luigi--do not
    Go to his City! Putting crime aside,
    Half of these ills of Italy are feigned:
    Your Pellicos and writers for effect,
    Write for effect.

    _Luigi._          Hush! Say A writes, and B.

    _Mother._ These A's and B's write for effect, I say.
    Then, evil is in its nature loud, while good
    Is silent; you hear each petty injury,
    None of his virtues; he is old beside,
    Quiet and kind, and densely stupid. Why
    Do A and B kill not him themselves?

    _Luigi._                            They teach
    Others to kill him--me--and, if I fail,
    Others to succeed; now, if A tried and failed,
    I could not teach that: mine 's the lesser task.
    Mother, they visit night by night ...

    _Mother._                             --You, Luigi?
    Ah, will you let me tell you what you are?

    _Luigi._ Why not? Oh, the one thing you fear to hint,
    You may assure yourself I say and say
    Ever to myself! At times--nay, even as now
    We sit--I think my mind is touched, suspect
    All is not sound: but is not knowing that,
    What constitutes one sane or otherwise?
    I know I am thus--so, all is right again.
    I laugh at myself as through the town I walk,
    And see men merry as if no Italy
    Were suffering; then I ponder--"I am rich,
    Young, healthy; why should this fact trouble me,
    More than it troubles these?" But it does trouble.
    No, trouble 's a bad word: for as I walk
    There 's springing and melody and giddiness,
    And old quaint turns and passages of my youth,
    Dreams long forgotten, little in themselves,
    Return to me--whatever may amuse me:
    And earth seems in a truce with me, and heaven
    Accords with me, all things suspend their strife,
    The very cicala laughs "There goes he, and there!
    Feast him, the time is short; he is on his way
    For the world's sake: feast him this once, our friend!"
    And in return for all this, I can trip
    Cheerfully up the scaffold-steps. I go
    This evening, mother!

    _Mother._             But mistrust yourself--
    Mistrust the judgment you pronounce on him!

    _Luigi._ Oh, there I feel--am sure that I am right!

    _Mother._ Mistrust your judgment then, of the mere means
    To this wild enterprise: say, you are right,--
    How should one in your state e'er bring to pass
    What would require a cool head, a cool heart,
    And a calm hand? You never will escape.

    _Luigi._ Escape? To even wish that, would spoil all.
    The dying is best part of it. Too much
    Have I enjoyed these fifteen years of mine,
    To leave myself excuse for longer life:
    Was not life pressed down, running o'er with joy,
    That I might finish with it ere my fellows
    Who, sparelier feasted, make a longer stay?
    I was put at the board-head, helped to all
    At first; I rise up happy and content.
    God must be glad one loves his world so much.
    I can give news of earth to all the dead
    Who ask me:--last year's sunsets, and great stars
    Which had a right to come first and see ebb
    The crimson wave that drifts the sun away--
    Those crescent moons with notched and burning rims
    That strengthened into sharp fire, and there stood,
    Impatient of the azure--and that day
    In March, a double rainbow stopped the storm--
    May's warm slow yellow moonlit summer nights--
    Gone are they, but I have them in my soul!

    _Mother._ (He will not go!)

    _Luigi._                    You smile at me? 'T is true,--
    Voluptuousness, grotesqueness, ghastliness,
    Environ my devotedness as quaintly
    As round about some antique altar wreathe
    The rose festoons, goats' horns, and oxen's skulls.

    _Mother._ See now: you reach the city, you must cross
    His threshold--how?

    _Luigi._            Oh, that's if we conspired!
    Then would come pains in plenty, as you guess--
    But guess not how the qualities most fit
    For such an office, qualities I have,
    Would little stead me, otherwise employed,
    Yet prove of rarest merit only here.
    Every one knows for what his excellence
    Will serve, but no one ever will consider
    For what his worst defect might serve: and yet
    Have you not seen me range our coppice yonder
    In search of a distorted ash?--I find
    The wry spoilt branch a natural perfect bow.
    Fancy the thrice-sage, thrice-precautioned man
    Arriving-at the palace on my errand!
    No, no! I have a handsome dress packed up--
    White satin here, to set off my black hair;
    In I shall march--for you may watch your life out
    Behind thick walls, make friends there to betray you;
    More than one man spoils everything. March straight--
    Only, no clumsy knife to fumble for,
    Take the great gate, and walk (not saunter) on
    Through guards and guards-- I have rehearsed it all
    Inside the turret here a hundred times.
    Don't ask the way of whom you meet, observe!
    But where they cluster thickliest is the door
    Of doors; they'll let you pass--they'll never blab
    Each to the other, he knows not the favorite,
    Whence he is bound and what's his business now.
    Walk in--straight up to him; you have no knife:
    Be prompt, how should he scream? Then, out with you!
    Italy, Italy, my Italy!
    You 're free, you 're free! Oh mother, I could dream
    They got about me--Andrea from his exile,
    Pier from his dungeon, Gualtier from his grave!

    _Mother._ Well, you shall go. Yet seems this patriotism
    The easiest virtue for a selfish man
    To acquire: he loves himself--and next, the world--
    If he must love beyond,--but naught between:
    As a short-sighted man sees naught midway
    His body and the sun above. But you
    Are my adored Luigi, ever obedient
    To my least wish, and running o'er with love:
    I could not call you cruel or unkind.
    Once more, your ground for killing him!--then go!

    _Luigi._ Now do you try me, or make sport of me?
    How first the Austrians got these provinces ...
    (If that is all, I 'll satisfy you soon)
    --Never by conquest but by cunning, for
    That treaty whereby ...

    _Mother._               Well?

    _Luigi._                           (Sure, he 's arrived,
    The tell-tale cuckoo: spring 's his confidant,
    And he lets out her April purposes!)
    Or ... better go at once to modern time.
    He has ... they have ... in fact, I understand
    But can't restate the matter; that's my boast:
    Others could reason it out to you, and prove
    Things they have made me feel.

    _Mother._                      Why go to-night?
    Morn 's for adventure. Jupiter is now
    A morning-star. I cannot hear you, Luigi!

    _Luigi._ "I am the bright and morning-star," saith God--
    And, "to such an one I give the morning-star."
    The gift of the morning-star! Have I God's gift
    Of the morning-star?

    _Mother._            Chiara will love to see
    That Jupiter an evening-star next June.

    _Luigi._ True, mother. Well for those who live through June!
    Great noontides, thunder-storms, all glaring pomps
    That triumph at the heels of June the god
    Leading his revel through our leafy world.
    Yes, Chiara will be here.

    _Mother._                 In June: remember,
    Yourself appointed that month for her coming.

    _Luigi._ Was that low noise the echo?

    _Mother._                                  The night-wind.
    She must be grown--with her blue eyes upturned
    As if life were one long and sweet surprise:
    In June she comes.

    _Luigi._           We were to see together
    The Titian at Treviso. There, again!

         [_From without is heard the voice of_ PIPPA, _singing_--

      _A king lived long ago,
      In the morning of the world,
      When earth was nigher heaven than now;
      And the king's locks curled,
      Disparting o'er a forehead full
      As the milk-white space 'twixt horn and horn
      Of some sacrificial bull--
      Only calm as a babe new-born:
      For he was got to a sleepy mood,
      So safe from all decrepitude,
      Age with its bane, so sure gone by,
      (The gods so loved him while he dreamed)
      That, having lived thus long, there seemed
      No need the king should ever die._

    _Luigi._ No need that sort of king should ever die!

      _Among the rocks his city was:
      Before his palace, in the sun,
      He sat to see his people pass,
      And judge them every one
      From its threshold of smooth stone.
      They haled him many a valley-thief
      Caught in the sheep-pens, robber-chief
      Swarthy and shameless, beggar-cheat,
      Spy-prowler, or rough pirate found
      On the sea-sand left aground;
      And sometimes clung about his feet,
      With bleeding lip and burning cheek,
      A woman, bitterest wrong to speak
      Of one with sullen thickset brows:
      And sometimes from the prison-house_
      _The angry priests a pale wretch brought,
      Who through some chink had pushed and pressed
      On knees and elbows, belly and breast,
      Worm-like into the temple,--caught
      He was by the very god,
      Who ever in the darkness strode
      Backward and forward, keeping watch
      O'er his brazen bowls, such rogues to catch!
      These, all and every one,
      The king judged, sitting in the sun._

    _Luigi._ That king should still judge sitting in the sun!

      _His councillors, on left and right,
      Looked anxious up,--but no surprise
      Disturbed the king's old smiling eyes
      Where the very blue had turned to white.
      'Tis said, a Python scared one day
      The breathless city, till he came,
      With forky tongue and eyes on flame.
      Where the old king sat to judge alway;
      But when he saw the sweepy hair
      Girt with a crown of berries rare
      Which the god will hardly give to wear
      To the maiden who singeth, dancing bare
      In the altar-smoke by the pine-torch lights,
      At his wondrous forest rites,--
      Seeing this, he did not dare
      Approach that threshold in the sun,
      Assault the old king smiling there.
      Such grace had kings when the world begun!_  [PIPPA _passes._

    _Luigi._ And such grace have they, now that the world ends!
    The Python at the city, on the throne,
    And brave men, God would crown for slaying him,
    Lurk in by-corners lest they fall his prey.
    Are crowns yet to be won in this late time,
    Which weakness makes me hesitate to reach?
    'T is God's voice calls: how could I stay? Farewell!

_Talk by the way, while_ PIPPA _is passing from the Turret to the
Bishop's Brother's House, close to the Duomo S. Maria. Poor_ GIRLS
_sitting on the steps._

    _1st Girl._ There goes a swallow to Venice--the stout seafarer!
    Seeing those birds fly, makes one wish for wings.
    Let us all wish; you, wish first!

    _2d Girl._                        I? This sunset
    To finish.

    _3d Girl._ That old--somebody I know,
    Grayer and older than my grandfather,
    To give me the same treat he gave last week--
    Feeding me on his knee with fig-peckers,
    Lampreys and red Breganze-wine, and mumbling
    The while some folly about how well I fare,
    Let sit and eat my supper quietly:
    Since had he not himself been late this morning
    Detained at--never mind where,--had he not ...
    "Eh, baggage, had I not!"--

    _2d Girl._                  How she can lie!

    _3d Girl._ Look there--by the nails!

    _2d Girl._                           What makes your fingers red?

    _3d Girl._ Dipping them into wine to write bad words with
    On the bright table: how he laughed!

    _1st Girl._                          My turn.
    Spring's come and summer's coming. I would wear
    A long loose gown, down to the feet and hands,
    With plaits here, close about the throat, all day;
    And all night lie, the cool long nights, in bed;
    And have new milk to drink, apples to eat,
    Deuzans and junetings, leather-coats ... ah, I should say,
    This is away in the fields--miles!

    _3d Girl._                         Say at once
    You'd be at home: she'd always be at home!
    Now comes the story of the farm among
    The cherry orchards, and how April snowed
    White blossoms on her as she ran. Why, fool,
    They've rubbed the chalk-mark out, how tall you were,
    Twisted your starling's neck, broken his cage,
    Made a dung-hill of your garden!

    _1st Girl._                      They destroy
    My garden since I left them? well--perhaps
    I would have done so: so I hope they have!
    A fig-tree curled out of our cottage wall;
    They called it mine, I have forgotten why,
    It must have been there long ere I was born:
    _Cric_--_cric_--I think I hear the wasps o'erhead
    Pricking the papers strung to flutter there
    And keep off birds in fruit-time--coarse long papers,
    And the wasps eat them, prick them through and through.

    _3d Girl._ How her month twitches! Where was I?--before
    She broke in with her wishes and long gowns
    And wasps--would I be such a fool!--Oh, here!
    This is my way: I answer every one
    Who asks me why I make so much of him--
    (If you say, "you love him"--straight "he 'll not be gulled!")
    "He that seduced me when I was a girl
    Thus high--had eyes like yours, or hair like yours,
    Brown, red, white,"--as the case may be: that pleases!
    See how that beetle burnishes in the path!
    There sparkles he along the dust: and, there--
    Your journey to that maize-tuft spoiled; at least!

    _1st Girl._ When I was young, they said if you killed one
    Of those sunshiny beetles, that his friend
    Up there, would shine no more that day nor next.

    _2d Girl._ When you were young? Nor are you young, that's true.
    How your plump arms, that were, have dropped away!
    Why, I can span them. Cecco beats you still?
    No matter, so you keep your curious hair.
    I wish they'd find a way to dye our hair
    Your color--any lighter tint, indeed,
    Than black: the men say they are sick of black,
    Black eyes, black hair!

    _4th Girl._             Sick of yours, like enough.
    Do you pretend you ever tasted lampreys
    And ortolans? Giovita, of the palace,
    Engaged (but there's no trusting him) to slice me
    Polenta with a knife that had cut up
    An ortolan.

    _2d Girl._ Why, there! Is not that Pippa
    We are to talk to, under the window,--quick!--
    Where the lights are?

    _1st Girl._           That she? No, or she would sing,
    For the Intendant said ...

    _3d Girl._                 Oh, you sing first!
    Then, if she listens and comes close ... I'll tell you,--
    Sing that song the young English noble made,
    Who took you for the purest of the pure,
    And meant to leave the world for you--what fun!

    _2d. Girl._ [_Sings._]

      _You'll love me yet!--and I can tarry
        Your love's protracted growing:
      June reared that bunch of flowers you carry,
        From seeds of April's sowing._

      _I plant a heartfull now: some seed
        At least is sure to strike,
      And yield--what you'll not pluck indeed,
        Not love, but, may be, like._

      _You'll look at least on love's remains,
        A grave's one violet:
      Your look?--that pays a thousand pains.
        What's death? You'll love me yet!_

_3d Girl._ [_To_ PIPPA _who approaches._] Oh, you may come closer--we
shall not eat you! Why, you seem the very person that the great rich
handsome Englishman has fallen so violently in love with. I 'll tell
you all about it.


_Inside the Palace by the Duomo._ MONSIGNOR, _dismissing his_

_Monsignor._ Thanks, friends, many thanks! I chiefly desire life now,
that I may recompense every one of you. Most I know something of
already. What, a repast prepared? _Benedicto benedicatur_ ... ugh,
ugh! Where was I? Oh, as you were remarking, Ugo, the weather is mild,
very unlike winter-weather: but I am a Sicilian, you know, and shiver
in your Julys here. To be sure, when 'twas full summer at Messina, as
we priests used to cross in procession the great square on Assumption
Day, you might see our thickest yellow tapers twist suddenly in two,
each like a falling star, or sink down on themselves in a gore of wax.
But go, my friends, but go! [_To the_ Intendant.] Not you, Ugo! [_The
others leave the apartment._] I have long wanted to converse with you,

_Intendant._ Uguccio--

_Mon._ ... 'guccio Stefani, man! of Ascoli, Fermo and
Fossombruno;--what I do need instructing about, are these accounts of
your administration of my poor brother's affairs. Ugh! I shall never
get through a third part of your accounts; take some of these dainties
before we attempt it, however. Are you bashful to that degree? For me,
a crust and water suffice.

_Inten._ Do you choose this especial night to question me?

_Mon._ This night, Ugo. You have managed my late brother's affairs
since the death of our elder brother: fourteen years and a month, all
but three days. On the Third of December, I find him ...

_Inten._ If you have so intimate an acquaintance with your brother's
affairs, you will be tender of turning so far back: they will hardly
bear looking into, so far back.

_Mon._ Ay, ay, ugh, ugh,--nothing but disappointments here below!
I remark a considerable payment made to yourself on this Third of
December. Talk of disappointments! There was a young fellow here,
Jules, a foreign sculptor I did my utmost to advance, that the Church
might be a gainer by us both: he was going on hopefully enough, and of
a sudden he notifies to me some marvellous change that has happened
in his notions of Art. Here's his letter,--"He never had a clearly
conceived Ideal within his brain till to-day. Yet since his hand could
manage a chisel, he has practised expressing other men's Ideals; and,
in the very perfection he has attained to, he foresees an ultimate
failure: his unconscious hand will pursue its prescribed course of old
years, and will reproduce with a fatal expertness the ancient types,
let the novel one appear never so palpably to his spirit. There is but
one method of escape: confiding the virgin type to as chaste a hand,
he will turn painter instead of sculptor, and paint, not carve, its
characteristics,"--strike out, I dare say, a school like Correggio: how
think you, Ugo?

_Inten._ Is Correggio a painter?

_Mon._ Foolish Jules! and yet, after all, why foolish? He may--probably
will--fail egregiously; but if there should arise a new painter, will
it not be in some such way, by a poet now, or a musician (spirits who
have conceived and perfected an Ideal through some other channel),
transferring it to this, and escaping our conventional roads by pure
ignorance of them; eh, Ugo? If you have no appetite, talk at least, Ugo!

_Inten._ Sir, I can submit no longer to this course of yours. First,
you select the group of which I formed one,--next you thin it
gradually,--always retaining me with your smile,--and so do you proceed
till you have fairly got me alone with you between four stone walls.
And now then? Let this farce, this chatter end now: what is it you want
with me?

_Mon._ Ugo!

_Inten._ From the instant you arrived, I felt your smile on me as you
questioned me about this and the other article in those papers--why
your brother should have given me this villa, that _podere_,--and your
nod at the end meant,--what?

_Mon._ Possibly that I wished for no loud talk here. If once you set me
coughing, Ugo!--

_Inten._ I have your brother's hand and seal to all I possess: now ask
me what for! what service I did him--ask me!

_Mon._ I would better not: I should rip up old disgraces, let out my
poor brother's weaknesses. By the way, Maffeo of Forli, (which, I
forgot to observe, is your true name,) was the interdict ever taken off
you for robbing that church at Cesena?

_Inten._ No, nor needs be: for when I murdered your brother's friend,
Pasquale, for him ...

_Mon._ Ah, he employed you in that business, did he? Well, I must let
you keep, as you say, this villa and that _podere_, for fear the world
should find out my relations were of so indifferent a stamp? Maffeo,
my family is the oldest in Messina, and century after century have my
progenitors gone on polluting themselves with every wickedness under
heaven: my own father ... rest his soul!--I have, I know, a chapel
to support that it may rest: my dear two dead brothers were,--what
you know tolerably well; I, the youngest, might have rivalled them
in vice, if not in wealth: but from my boyhood I came out from among
them, and so am not partaker of their plagues. My glory springs from
another source; or if from this, by contrast only,--for I, the bishop,
am the brother of your employers, Ugo. I hope to repair some of their
wrong, however; so far as my brother's ill-gotten treasure reverts
to me, I can stop the consequences of his crime: and not one _soldo_
shall escape me. Maffeo, the sword we quiet men spurn away, you shrewd
knaves pick up and commit murders with; what opportunities the virtuous
forego, the villanous seize. Because, to pleasure myself apart from
other considerations, my food would be millet-cake, my dress sackcloth,
and my couch straw,--am I therefore to let you, the off-scouring-of
the earth, seduce the poor and ignorant by appropriating a pomp these
will be sure to think lessens the abominations so unaccountably and
exclusively associated with it? Must I let villas and _poderi_ go to
you, a murderer and thief, that you may beget by means of them other
murderers and thieves? No--if my cough would but allow me to speak!

_Inten._ What am I to expect? You are going to punish me?

_Mon._ Must punish you, Maffeo. I cannot afford to cast away a chance.
I have whole centuries of sin to redeem, and only a month or two of
life to do it in. How should I dare to say ...

_Inten._ "Forgive us our trespasses"?

_Mon._ My friend, it is because I avow myself a very worm, sinful
beyond measure, that I reject a line of conduct you would applaud
perhaps. Shall I proceed, as it were, a-pardoning?--I?--who have no
symptom of reason to assume that aught less than my strenuousest
efforts will keep myself out of mortal sin, much less keep others out.
No: I do trespass, but will not double that by allowing you to trespass.

_Inten._ And suppose the villas are not your brother's to give, nor
yours to take? Oh, you are hasty enough just now!

_Mon._ 1, 2--Nᵒ. 3!--ay, can you read the substance of a letter, Nᵒ.
3, I have received from Rome? It is precisely on the ground there
mentioned, of the suspicion I have that a certain child of my late
elder brother, who would have succeeded to his estates, was murdered
in infancy by you, Maffeo, at the instigation of my late younger
brother--that the Pontiff enjoins on me not merely the bringing that
Maffeo to condign punishment, but the taking all pains, as guardian of
the infant's heritage for the Church, to recover it parcel by parcel,
howsoever, whensoever, and wheresoever. While you are now gnawing those
fingers, the police are engaged in sealing up your papers, Maffeo,
and the mere raising my voice brings my people from the next room to
dispose of yourself. But I want you to confess quietly, and save me
raising my voice. Why, man, do I not know the old story? The heir
between the succeeding heir, and this heir's ruffianly instrument, and
their complot's effect, and the life of fear and bribes and ominous
smiling silence? Did you throttle or stab my brother's infant? Come now!

_Inten._ So old a story, and tell it no better? When did such an
instrument ever produce such an effect? Either the child smiles in
his face; or, most likely, he is not fool enough to put himself in
the employer's power so thoroughly: the child is always ready to
produce--as you say--howsoever, wheresoever, and whensoever.

_Mon._ Liar!

_Inten._ Strike me? Ah, so might a father chastise! I shall sleep
soundly to-night at least, though the gallows await me to-morrow; for
what a life did I lead! Carlo of Cesena reminds me of his connivance,
every time I pay his annuity; which happens commonly thrice a year. If
I remonstrate, he will confess all to the good bishop--you!

_Mon._ I see through the trick, caitiff! I would you spoke truth for
once. All shall be sifted, however--seven times sifted.

_Inten._ And how my absurd riches encumbered me! I dared not lay claim
to above half my possessions. Let me but once unbosom myself, glorify
Heaven, and die!

Sir, you are no brutal dastardly idiot like your brother I frightened
to death: let us understand one another. Sir, I will make away with her
for you--the girl--here close at hand; not the stupid obvious kind of
killing; do not speak--know nothing of her nor of me! I see her every
day--saw her this morning: of course there is to be no killing; but at
Rome the courtesans perish off every three years, and I can entice her
thither--have indeed begun operations already. There's a certain lusty
blue-eyed florid-complexioned English knave, I and the Police employ
occasionally. You assent, I perceive--no, that's not it--assent I do
not say--but you will let me convert my present havings and holdings
into cash, and give me time to cross the Alps? 'Tis but a little
black-eyed pretty singing Felippa, gay silk-winding girl. I have kept
her out of harm's way up to this present; for I always intended to make
your life a plague to you with her. 'T is as well settled once and
forever. Some women I have procured will pass Bluphocks, my handsome
scoundrel, off for somebody; and once Pippa entangled!--you conceive?
Through her singing? Is it a bargain?

[_From without is heard the voice of_ PIPPA, _singing_--

      _Overhead the tree-tops meet,
      Flowers and grass spring 'neath one's feet;
      There was naught above me, naught below,
      My childhood had not learned to know:
      For, what are the voices of birds
      --Ay, and of beasts,--but words, our words,
      Only so much more sweet?
      The knowledge of that with my life begun.
      But I had so near made out the sun,
      And counted your stars, the seven and one,
      Like the fingers of my hand:
      Nay, I could all but understand
      Wherefore through heaven the white moon ranges;
      And just when out of her soft fifty changes
      No unfamiliar face might overlook me--
      Suddenly God took me._           [PIPPA _passes_.

_Mon._ [_Springing up._] My people--one and all--all--within there! Gag
this villain--tie him hand and foot! He dares ... I know not half he
dares--but remove him--quick! _Miserere mei, Domine!_ Quick, I say!

PIPPA'S _Chamber again. She enters it._

    The bee with his comb,
    The mouse at her dray,
    The grub in his tomb,
    While winter away;
    But the fire-fly and hedge-shrew and lob-worm, I pray,
    How fare they?
    Ha, ha, thanks for your counsel, my Zanze!
    "Feast upon lampreys, quaff Breganze"--
    The summer of life so easy to spend,
    And care for to-morrow so soon put away!
    But winter hastens at summer's end,
    And fire-fly, hedge-shrew, lob-worm, pray,
    How fare they?
    No bidding me then to ... what did Zanze say?
    "Pare your nails pearlwise, get your small feet shoes
    More like" ... (what said she?)--"and less like canoes!"
    How pert that girl was!--would I be those pert
    Impudent staring women! It had done me,
    However, surely no such mighty hurt
    To learn his name who passed that jest upon me:
    No foreigner, that I can recollect,
    Came, as she says, a month since, to inspect
    Our silk-mills--none with blue eyes and thick rings
    Of raw-silk-colored hair, at all events.
    Well, if old Luca keep his good intents,
    We shall do better, see what next year brings!
    I may buy shoes, my Zanze, not appear
    More destitute than you perhaps next year!
    Bluph ... something! I had caught the uncouth name
    But for Monsignor's people's sudden clatter
    Above us--bound to spoil such idle chatter
    As ours: it were indeed a serious matter
    If silly talk like ours should put to shame
    The pious man, the man devoid of blame,
    The ... ah but--ah but, all the same,
    No mere mortal has a right
    To carry that exalted air;
    Best people are not angels quite:
    While--not the worst of people's doings scare
    The devil; so there 's that proud look to spare!
      Which is mere counsel to myself, mind! for
    I have just been the holy Monsignor:
    And I was you too, Luigi's gentle mother,
    And you too, Luigi!--how that Luigi started
    Out of the turret--doubtlessly departed
    On some good errand or another,
    For he passed just now in a traveller's trim,
    And the sullen company that prowled
    About his path, I noticed, scowled
    As if they had lost a prey in him.
    And I was Jules the sculptor's bride,
    And I was Ottima beside,
    And now what am I?--tired of fooling.
    Day for folly, night for schooling!
    New year's day is over and spent,
    Ill or well, I must be content.
      Even my lily 's asleep, I vow:
    Wake up--here 's a friend I've plucked you!
    Call this flower a heart's-ease now!
    Something rare, let me instruct you,
    Is this, with petals triply swollen,
    Three times spotted, thrice the pollen;
    While the leaves and parts that witness
    Old proportions and their fitness,
    Here remain unchanged, unmoved now;
    Call this pampered thing improved now!
    Suppose there 's a king of the flowers
    And a girl-show held in his bowers---
    "Look ye, buds, this growth of ours,"
    Says he, "Zanze from the Brenta,
    I have made her gorge polenta
    Till both cheeks are near as bouncing
    As her ... name there 's no pronouncing!
    See this heightened color too,
    For she swilled Breganze wine
    Till her nose turned deep carmine;
    'T was but white when wild she grew.
    And only by this Zanze's eyes
    Of which we could not change the size,
    The magnitude of all achieved
    Otherwise, may be perceived."

    Oh what a drear dark close to my poor day!
    How could that red sun drop in that black cloud?
    Ah Pippa, morning's rule is moved away,
    Dispensed with, never more to be allowed!
    Day's turn is over, now arrives the night's.
    Oh lark, be day's apostle
    To mavis, merle and throstle,
    Bid them their betters jostle
    From day and its delights!
    But at night, brother owlet, over the woods,
    Toll the world to thy chantry;
    Sing to the bats' sleek sisterhoods
    Full complines with gallantry:
    Then, owls and bats,
    Cowls and twats,
    Monks and nuns, in a cloister's moods,
    Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!
                       [_After she has begun to undress herself._
    Now, one thing I should like to really know:
    How near I ever might approach all these
    I only fancied being, this long day:
    --Approach, I mean, so as to touch them, so
    As to ... in some way ... move them--if you please,
    Do good or evil to them some slight way.
    For instance, if I wind
    Silk to-morrow, my silk may bind   [_Sitting on the bedside._
    And border Ottima's cloak's hem.
    Ah me, and my important part with them,
    This morning's hymn half promised when I rose!
    True in some sense or other, I suppose.  [_As she lies down._
    God bless me! I can pray no more to-night.
    No doubt, some way or other, hymns say right.

        _All service ranks the same with God--
        With God, whose puppets, best and worst,
        Are we; there is no last nor first._       [_She sleeps._



This was No. II. of _Bells and Pomegranates_ and was issued in 1842,
though it appears to have been written before the publication of _Pippa
Passes_. The following is the advertisement prefixed to the tragedy
when first published and always afterward retained.

    "So far as I know, this tragedy is the first artistic consequence
    of what Voltaire termed 'a terrible event without consequences;'
    and although it professes to be historical, I have taken more
    pains to arrive at the history than most readers would thank me
    for particularizing: since acquainted, as I will hope them to
    be, with the chief circumstances of Victor's remarkable European
    career--nor quite ignorant of the sad and surprising facts I
    am about to reproduce (a tolerable account of which is to be
    found, for instance, in Abbe Roman's _Récit_, or even the fifth
    of Lord Orrery's Letters from Italy)--I cannot expect them to be
    versed, nor desirous of becoming so, in all the detail of the
    memoirs, correspondence, and relations of the time. From these
    only may be obtained a knowledge of the fiery and audacious
    temper, unscrupulous selfishness, profound dissimulation, and
    singular fertility in resources, of Victor--the extreme and
    painful sensibility, prolonged immaturity of powers, earnest good
    purpose and vacillating will of Charles--the noble and right
    woman's manliness of his wife--and the ill-considered rascality
    and subsequent better-advised rectitude of D'Ormea. When I say,
    therefore, that I cannot but believe my statement (combining as it
    does what appears correct in Voltaire and plausible in Condorcet)
    more true to person and thing than any it has hitherto been my
    fortune to meet with, no doubt my word will be taken, and my
    evidence spared as readily. R. B."

    LONDON, 1842.


    VICTOR AMADEUS, first King of Sardinia.
    CHARLES EMANUEL, his son, Prince of Piedmont.
    POLYXENA, wife of Charles.
    D'ORMEA, minister.



SCENE.--_The Council Chamber of Rivoli Palace, near Turin,
communicating with a Hall at the back, an Apartment to the left, and
another to the right of the stage._

TIME, 1730-31.


    _Charles._ You think so? Well, _I_ do not.

    _Polyxena._                              My beloved,
    All must clear up; we shall be happy yet:
    This cannot last forever--oh, may change
    To-day or any day!

    _Cha._             --May change? Ah yes--
    May change!

    _Pol._      Endure it, then.

    _Cha._                       No doubt a life
    Like this drags on, now better and now worse.
    My father may ... may take to loving me;
    And he may take D'Ormea closer yet
    To counsel him;--may even cast off her
    --That bad Sebastian; but he also may
    ... Or no, Polyxena, my only friend,
    He may not force you from me?

    _Pol._                        Now, force me
    From you!--me, close by you as if there gloomed
    No Sebastians, no D'Ormeas on our path--
    At Rivoli or Turin, still at hand,
    Arch-counsellor, prime confidant ... force me!

    _Cha._ Because I felt as sure, as I feel sure
    We clasp hands now, of being happy once.
    Young was I, quite neglected, nor concerned
    By the world's business that engrossed so much
    My father and my brother: if I peered
    From out my privacy,--amid the crash
    And blaze of nations, domineered those two.
    'Twas war, peace--France our foe, now--England, friend--
    In love with Spain--at feud with Austria! Well--
    I wondered, laughed a moment's laugh for pride
    In the chivalrous couple, then let drop
    My curtain--"I am out of it," I said--
    When ...

    _Pol._   You have told me, Charles.

    _Cha._                              Polyxena--
    When suddenly,--a warm March day, just that!
    Just so much sunshine as the cottage child
    Basks in delighted, while the cottager
    Takes off his bonnet, as he ceases work,
    To catch the more of it--and it must fall
    Heavily on my brother! Had you seen
    Philip--the lion-featured! not like me!

    _Pol._ I know--

    _Cha._          And Philip's mouth yet fast to mine,
    His dead cheek on my cheek, his arm still round
    My neck,--they bade me rise, "for I was heir
    To the Duke," they said, "the right hand of the Duke:"
    Till then he was my father, not the Duke.
    So ... let me finish ... the whole intricate
    World's-business their dead boy was born to, I
    Must conquer,--ay, the brilliant thing he was
    I of a sudden must be: my faults, my follies,
    --All bitter truths were told me, all at once,
    To end the sooner. What I simply styled
    Their overlooking me, had been contempt:
    How should the Duke employ himself, forsooth,
    With such an one, while lordly Philip rode
    By him their Turin through? But he was punished,
    And must put up with--me! 'Twas sad enough
    To learn my future portion and submit.
    And then the wear and worry, blame on blame!
    For, spring-sounds in my ears, spring-smells about,
    How could I but grow dizzy in their pent
    Dim palace-rooms at first? My mother's look
    As they discussed my insignificance,
    She and my father, and I sitting by,--
    I bore; I knew how brave a son they missed;
    Philip had gayly run state-papers through,
    While Charles was spelling at them painfully!
    But Victor was my father spite of that.
    "Duke Victor's entire life has been," I said,
    "Innumerable efforts to one end;
    And on the point now of that end's success,
    Our Ducal turning to a Kingly crown,
    Where's time to be reminded 'tis his child
    He spurns?" And so I suffered--scarcely suffered,
    Since I had you at length!

    _Pol._                     To serve in place
    Of monarch, minister and mistress, Charles!

    _Cha._ But, once that crown obtained, then was't not like
    Our lot would alter? "When he rests, takes breath,
    Glances around, sees who there's left to love--
    Now that my mother's dead, sees I am left--
    Is it not like he'll love me at the last?"
    Well, Savoy turns Sardinia; the Duke's King:
    Could I--precisely then--could you expect
    His harshness to redouble? These few months
    Have been ... have been ... Polyxena, do you
    And God conduct me, or I lose myself!
    What would he have? What is't they want with me?
    Him with this mistress and this minister,
    --You see me and you hear him; judge us both!
    Pronounce what I should do, Polyxena!

    _Pol._ Endure, endure, beloved! Say you not
    He is your father? All's so incident
    To novel sway! Beside, our life must change:
    Or you'll acquire his kingcraft, or he'll find
    Harshness a sorry way of teaching it.
    I bear this--not that there's so much to bear.

    _Cha._ You bear? Do not I know that you, though bound
    To silence for my sake, are perishing
    Piecemeal beside me? And how otherwise
    When every creephole from the hideous Court
    Is stopped; the Minister to dog me, here--
    The Mistress posted to entrap you, there!
    And thus shall we grow old in such a life;
    Not careless, never estranged,--but old: to alter
    Our life, there is so much to alter!

    _Pol._                               Come--
    Is it agreed that we forego complaint
    Even at Turin, yet complain we here
    At Rivoli? 'Twere wiser you announced
    Our presence to the King. What's now afoot
    I wonder? Not that any more's to dread
    Than every day's embarrassment: but guess
    For me, why train so fast succeeded train
    On the high-road, each gayer still than each!
    I noticed your Archbishop's pursuivant,
    The sable cloak and silver cross; such pomp
    Bodes ... what now, Charles? Can you conceive?

    _Cha._                                         Not I.

    _Pol._ A matter of some moment--

    _Cha._                           There's our life!
    Which of the group of loiterers that stare
    From the lime-avenue, divines that I--
    About to figure presently, he thinks,
    In face of all assembled--am the one
    Who knows precisely least about it?

    _Pol._                              Tush!
    D'Ormea's contrivance!

    _Cha._                 Ay, how otherwise
    Should the young Prince serve for the old King's foil?
    --So that the simplest courtier may remark
    'T were idle raising parties for a Prince
    Content to linger the court's laughing-stock.
    Something, 't is like, about that weary business
                [_Pointing to papers he has laid down, and which_
                POLYXENA _examines_.
    --Not that I comprehend three words, of course,
    After all last night's study.

    _Pol._                        The faint heart!
    Why, as we rode and you rehearsed just now
    Its substance ... (that 's the folded speech I mean,
    Concerning the Reduction of the Fiefs)
    --What would you have?--I fancied while you spoke,
    Some tones were just your father's.

    _Cha._                              Flattery!

    _Pol._ I fancied so:--and here lurks, sure enough,
    My note upon the Spanish Claims! You 've mastered
    The fief-speech thoroughly: this other, mind,
    Is an opinion you deliver,--stay,
    Best read it slowly over once to me;
    Read--there 's bare time; you read it firmly--loud
    --Rather loud, looking in his face,--don't sink
    Your eye once--ay, thus! "If Spain claims" ... begin
    --Just as you look at me!

    _Cha._                    At you! Oh truly,
    You have I seen, say, marshalling your troops,
    Dismissing councils, or, through doors ajar,
    Head sunk on hand, devoured by slow chagrins
    --Then radiant, for a crown had all at once
    Seemed possible again! I can behold
    Him, whose least whisper ties my spirit fast,
    In this sweet brow, naught could divert me from
    Save objects like Sebastian's shameless lip,
    Or worse, the clipped gray hair and dead white face
    And dwindling eye as if it ached with guile,
    D'Ormea wears ...

(_As he kisses her, enter from the_ KING'S _apartment_ D'ORMEA.)

                      I said he would divert
    My kisses from your brow!

    _D'Ormea._ [_Aside._] Here! So, King Victor
    Spoke truth for once: and who 's ordained, but I
    To make that memorable? Both in call,
    As he declared! Were 't better gnash the teeth,
    Or laugh outright now?

    _Cha._ [_to_ POL.]    What 's his visit for?

    _D'O. [Aside.]_ I question if they even speak to me.

    _Pol._ [_to_ CHA.] Face the man! He 'll suppose you fear him else.
    [_Aloud._] The Marquis bears the King's command, no doubt?

    _D'O._ [_Aside._] Precisely!--If I threatened him, perhaps?
    Well, this at least is punishment enough!
    Men used to promise punishment would come.

    _Cha._ Deliver the King's message, Marquis!

    _D'O._ [_Aside._ ]                       Ah--
    So anxious for his fate? [_Aloud_.] A word, my Prince,
    Before you see your father--just one word
    Of counsel!

    _Cha._      Oh, your counsel certainly!
    Polyxena, the Marquis counsels us!
    Well, sir? Be brief, however!

    _D'O._                        What? You know
    As much as I?--preceded me, most like,
    In knowledge! So! ('T is in his eye, beside--
    His voice: he knows it, and his heart 's on flame
    Already!) You surmise why you, myself,
    Del Borgo, Spava, fifty nobles more,
    Are summoned thus?

    _Cha._             Is the Prince used to know,
    At any time, the pleasure of the King,
    Before his minister?--Polyxena,
    Stay here till I conclude my task: I feel
    Your presence (smile not) through the walls, and take
    Fresh heart. The King 's within that chamber?

    _D'O._ [_Passing the table whereon a paper lies,
    exclaims, as he glances at it_]              "Spain!"

    _Pol._ [_Aside to_ CHA.] Tarry awhile: what ails the minister?

    _D'O._ Madam, I do not often trouble you.
    The Prince loathes, and you scorn me--let that pass!
    But since it touches him and you, not me,
    Bid the Prince listen!

    _Pol._ [_to_ CHA.]     Surely you will listen:
    --Deceit?--Those fingers crumpling up his vest?

    _Cha._ Deceitful to the very fingers' ends!

    _D'O._ [_who has approached them, overlooks the
    other paper_ CHARLES _continues to hold_].
    My project for the Fiefs! As I supposed!
    Sir, I must give you light upon those measures
    --For this is mine, and that I spied of Spain,
    Mine too!

    _Cha._    Release me! Do you gloze on me
    Who bear in the world's face (that is, the world
    You make for me at Turin) your contempt?
    --Your measures?--When was not a hateful task
    D'Ormea's imposition? Leave my robe!
    What post can I bestow, what grant concede?
    Or do you take me for the King?

    _D'O._                          Not I!
    Not yet for King,--not for, as yet, thank God,
    One who in ... shall I say a year, a month?
    Ay!--shall be wretcheder than e'er was slave
    In his Sardinia,--Europe's spectacle
    And the world's by-word! What? The Prince aggrieved
    That I excluded him our counsels? Here
         [_Touching the paper in_ CHARLES's _hand_.
    Accept a method of extorting gold
    From Savoy's nobles, who must wring its worth
    In silver first from tillers of the soil,
    Whose hinds again have to contribute brass
    To make up the amount: there 's counsel, sir,
    My counsel, one year old; and the fruit, this--
    Savoy 's become a mass of misery
    And wrath, which one man has to meet--the King:
    You 're not the King! Another counsel, sir!
    Spain entertains a project (here it lies)
    Which, guessed, makes Austria offer that same King
    Thus much to baffle Spain; he promises;
    Then comes Spain, breathless lest she be forestalled,
    Her offer follows; and he promises ...

    _Cha._--Promises, sir, when he has just agreed
    To Austria's offer?

    _D'O._              That's a counsel, Prince!
    But past our foresight, Spain and Austria (choosing
    To make their quarrel up between themselves
    Without the intervention of a friend)
    Produce both treaties, and both promises ...

    _Cha._ How?

    _D'O._ Prince, a counsel! And the fruit of that?
    Both parties covenant afresh, to fall
    Together on their friend, blot out his name,
    Abolish him from Europe. So, take note,
    Here's Austria and here's Spain to fight against,
    And what sustains the King but Savoy here,
    A miserable people mad with wrongs?
    You're not the King!

    _Cha._               Polyxena, you said
    All would clear up: all does clear up to me.

    _D'O._ Clear up! 'T is no such thing to envy, then?
    You see the King's state in its length and breadth?
    You blame me now for keeping you aloof
    From counsels and the fruit of counsels? Wait
    Till I explain this morning's business!

    _Cha._ [_Aside._]                       No--
    Stoop to my father, yes,--D'Ormea, no;
    --The King's son, not to the King's counsellor!
    I will do something, but at least retain
    The credit of my deed! [_Aloud._] Then it is this
    You now expressly come to tell me?

    _D'O._                             This
    To tell! You apprehend me?

    _Cha._                     Perfectly.
    Further, D'Ormea, you have shown yourself,
    For the first time these many weeks and months,
    Disposed to do my bidding?

    _D'O._                     From the heart!

    _Cha._ Acquaint my father, first, I wait his pleasure:
    Next ... or, I'll tell you at a fitter time.
    Acquaint the King!

    _D'O._ [_Aside._]    If I 'scape Victor yet!
    First, to prevent this stroke at me: if not,--
    Then, to avenge it! [_To_ CHA.] Gracious sir, I go.  [_Goes._

    _Cha._ God, I forbore! Which more offends, that man
    Or that man's master? Is it come to this?
    Have they supposed (the sharpest insult yet)
    I needed e'en his intervention? No!
    No--dull am I, conceded,--but so dull,
    Scarcely! Their step decides me.

    _Pol._                           How decides?

    _Cha._ Yon would be freed D'Ormea's eye and hers?
    --Could fly the court with me and live content?
    So, this it is for which the knights assemble!
    The whispers and the closeting of late,
    The savageness and insolence of old,
    --For this!

    _Pol._     What mean you?

    _Cha._                    How? You fail to catch
    Their clever plot? I missed it, but could you?
    These last two months of care to inculcate
    How dull I am,--D'Ormea's present visit
    To prove that, being dull, I might be worse
    Were I a King--as wretched as now dull--
    You recognize in it no winding up
    Of a long plot?

    _Pol._          Why should there be a plot?

    _Cha._ The crown's secure now; I should shame the crown--
    An old complaint; the point is, how to gain
    My place for one more fit in Victor's eyes,
    His mistress the Sebastian's child.

    _Pol._                              In truth?

    _Cha._ They dare not quite dethrone Sardinia's Prince:
    But they may descant on my dulness till
    They sting me into even praying them
    Grant leave to hide my head, resign my state,
    And end the coil. Not see now? In a word,
    They'd have me tender them myself my rights
    As one incapable;--some cause for that,
    Since I delayed thus long to see their drift!
    I shall apprise the King he may resume
    My rights this moment.

    _Pol._                 Pause! I dare not think
    So ill of Victor.

    _Cha._            Think no ill of him!

    _Pol._--Nor think him, then, so shallow as to suffer
    His purpose be divined thus easily.
    And yet--you are the last of a great line;
    There's a great heritage at stake; new days
    Seemed to await this newest of the realms
    Of Europe:--Charles, you must withstand this!

    _Cha._                                        Ah!
    You dare not then renounce the splendid court
    For one whom all the world despises? Speak!

    _Pol._ My gentle husband, speak I will, and truth.
    Were this as you believe, and I once sure
    Your duty lay in so renouncing rule,
    I could ... could? Oh what happiness it were
    To live, my Charles, and die, alone with you!

    _Cha._ I grieve I asked you. To the presence, then!
    By this, D'Ormea acquaints the King, no doubt,
    He fears I am too simple for mere hints,
    And that no less will serve than Victor's mouth
    Demonstrating in council what I am.
    I have not breathed, I think, these many years!

    _Pol._ Why, it may be!--if he desire to wed
    That woman, call legitimate her child.

    _Cha._ You see as much? Oh, let his will have way!
    You'll not repent confiding in me, love?
    There's many a brighter spot in Piedmont, far,
    Than Rivoli. I'll seek him: or, suppose
    You hear first how I mean to speak my mind?
    Loudly and firmly both, this time, be sure!
    I yet may see your Rhine-land, who can tell?
    Once away, ever then away! I breathe.

    _Pol._ And I too breathe.

    _Cha._                    Come, my Polyxena!



_Enter_ KING VICTOR, _bearing the regalia on a cushion, from his
apartment. He calls loudly_--

    D'Ormea!--for patience fails me, treading thus
    Among the obscure trains I have laid,--my knights
    Safe in the hall here--in that anteroom,
    My son,--D'Ormea, where? Of this, one touch--
                                   [_Laying down the crown._
    This fireball to these mute black cold trains--then
    Outbreak enough!
    [_Contemplating it._] To lose all, after all!
    This, glancing o'er my house for ages--shaped,
    Brave meteor, like the crown of Cyprus now,
    Jerusalem, Spain, England, every change
    The braver,--and when I have clutched a prize
    My ancestry died wan with watching for,
    To lose it!--by a slip, a fault, a trick
    Learnt to advantage once and not unlearned
    When past the use,--"just this once more" (I thought)
    "Use it with Spain and Austria happily,
    And then away with trick!" An oversight
    I'd have repaired thrice over, any time
    These fifty years, must happen now! There 's peace
    At length; and I, to make the most of peace,
    Ventured my project on our people here,
    As needing not their help: which Europe knows,
    And means, cold-blooded, to dispose herself
    (Apart from plausibilities of war)
    To crush the new-made King--who ne'er till now
    Feared her. As Duke, I lost each foot of earth
    And laughed at her: my name was left, my sword
    Left, all was left! But she can take, she knows,
    This crown, herself conceded ...
                                     That's to try,
    Kind Europe!--My career's not closed as yet,
    This boy was ever subject to my will,
    Timid and tame--the fitter!--D'Ormea, too
    What if the sovereign also rid himself
    Of thee, his prime of parasites? I delay!

(_As_ D'ORMEA _enters, the King seats himself._)

             My son, the Prince--attends he?

    _D'O._                                   Sir,
    He does attend. The crown prepared!--it seems
    That you persist in your resolve.

    _Victor._                         Who's come?
    The chancellor and the chamberlain? My knights?

    _D'O._ The whole Annunziata. If, my liege,
    Your fortune had not tottered worse than now ...

    _Vic._ Del Borgo has drawn up the schedules? mine--
    My son's, too? Excellent! Only, beware
    Of the least blunder, or we look but fools.
    First, you read the Annulment of the Oaths;
    Del Borgo follows ... no, the Prince shall sign;
    Then let Del Borgo read the Instrument:
    On which, I enter.

    _D'O._             Sir, this may be truth;
    You, sir, may do as you affect--may break
    Your engine, me, to pieces: try at least
    If not a spring remain worth saving! Take
    My counsel as I've counselled many times!
    What if the Spaniard and the Austrian threat?
    There 's England, Holland, Venice--which ally
    Select you?

    _Vic._      Aha! Come, D'Ormea,--"truth"
    Was on your lip a minute since. Allies?
    I've broken faith with Venice, Holland, England
    --As who knows if not you?

    _D'O._                     But why with me
    Break faith--with one ally, your best, break faith?

    _Vic._ When first I stumbled on you, Marquis--'t was
    At Mondovi--a little lawyer's clerk ...

    _D'O._ Therefore your soul's ally!--who brought you through
    Your quarrel with the Pope, at pains enough--
    Who simply echoed you in these affairs--
    On whom you cannot therefore visit these
    Affairs' ill fortune--whom you trust to guide
    You safe (yes, on my soul) through these affairs!

    _Vic._ I was about to notice, had you not
    Prevented me, that since that great town kept
    With its chicane D'Ormea's satchel stuffed
    And D'Ormea's self sufficiently recluse,
    He missed a sight,--my naval armament
    When I burned Toulon. How the skiff exults
    Upon the galliot's wave!--rises its height,
    O'ertops it even; but the great wave bursts,
    And hell-deep in the horrible profound
    Buries itself the galliot: shall the skiff
    Think to escape the sea's black trough in turn?
    Apply this: you have been my minister
    --Next me, above me possibly;--sad post,
    Huge care, abundant lack of peace of mind;
    Who would desiderate the eminence?
    You gave your soul to get it; you'd yet give
    Your soul to keep it, as I mean you shall,
    D'Ormea! What if the wave ebbed with me?
    Whereas it cants you to another crest;
    I toss you to my son; ride out your ride!

    _D'O._ Ah, you so much despise me?

    _Vic._                                  You, D'Ormea?
    Nowise: and I'll inform you why. A king
    Must in his time have many ministers,
    And I've been rash enough to part with mine
    When I thought proper. Of the tribe, not one
    (... Or wait, did Pianezze? ... ah, just the same!)
    Not one of them, ere his remonstrance reached
    The length of yours, but has assured me (commonly
    Standing much as you stand,--or nearer, say,
    The door to make his exit on his speech)
    --I should repent of what I did. D'Ormea,
    Be candid, you approached it when I bade you
    Prepare the schedules! But you stopped in time,
    You have not so assured me: how should I
    Despise you then?

(_Enter_ CHARLES.)

    _Vic._ [_Changing his tone._] Are you instructed? Do
    My order, point by point! About it, sir!

    _D'O._ You so despise me! [_Aside._] One last stay remains--
    The boy's discretion there.
           [_To_ CHA.] For your sake, Prince,
    I pleaded, wholly in your interest,
    To save you from this fate!

    _Cha._ [_Aside._]           Must I be told
    The Prince was supplicated for--by him?

    _Vic._ [_To D'O._] Apprise Del Borgo, Spava, and the rest,
    Our son attends them; then return.

    _D'O._                             One word!

    _Cha._ [_Aside._] A moment's pause and they would drive me hence,
    I do believe!

    _D'O._ [_Aside._] Let but the boy be firm!

    _Vic._ You disobey?

    _Cha._ [_To D'O._]       You do not disobey
    Me, at least. Did you promise that or no?

    _D'O._ Sir, I am yours: what would you? Yours am I!

    _Cha._ When I have said what I shall say, 't is like
    Your face will ne'er again disgust me. Go!
    Through you, as through a breast of glass, I see.
    And for your conduct, from my youth till now,
    Take my contempt! You might have spared me much,
    Secured me somewhat, nor so harmed yourself:
    That's over now. Go, ne'er to come again!

    _D'O._ As son, the father--father, as the son!
    My wits! My wits!                                    [_Goes._

    _Vic._ [_Seated._] And you, what meant you, pray,
    Speaking thus to D'Ormea?

    _Cha._                    Let us not
    Waste words upon D'Ormea! Those I spent
    Have half unsettled what I came to say.
    His presence vexes to my very soul.

    _Vic._ One called to manage a kingdom, Charles, needs heart
    To bear up under worse annoyances
    Than seems D'Ormea--to me, at least.

    _Cha._ [_Aside._]                    Ah, good!
    He keeps me to the point! Then be it so.
    [_Aloud._] Last night, sir, brought me certain papers--these--
    To be reported on,--your way of late.
    Is it last night's result that you demand?

    _Vic._ For God's sake, what has night brought forth? Pronounce
    The ... what 's your word?--result!

    _Cha._                              Sir, that had proved
    Quite worthy of your sneer, no doubt:--a few
    Lame thoughts, regard for you alone could wring,
    Lame as they are, from brains like mine, believe!
    As 't is, sir, I am spared both toil and sneer.
    These are the papers.

    _Vic._                Well, sir? I suppose
    You hardly burned them. Now for your result!

    _Cha._ I never should have done great things, of course,
    But ... oh my father, had you loved me more!

    _Vic._ Loved? [_Aside._] Has D'Ormea played me false, I wonder?
    [_Aloud._] Why, Charles, a king's love is diffused--yourself
    May overlook, perchance, your part in it.
    Our monarchy is absolutest now
    In Europe, or my trouble's thrown away.
    I love, my mode, that subjects each and all
    May have the power of loving, all and each,
    Their mode: I doubt not, many have their sons
    To trifle with, talk soft to, all day long:
    I have that crown, this chair, D'Ormea, Charles!

    _Cha._ 'T is well I am a subject then, not you.

    _Vic._ [_Aside._] D'Ormea has told him everything. [_Aloud._] Aha,
    I apprehend you: when all 's said, you take
    Your private station to be prized beyond
    My own, for instance?

    _Cha._                --Do and ever did
    So take it: 't is the method you pursue
    That grieves ...

    _Vic._ These words! Let me express, my friend,
    Your thoughts. You penetrate what I supposed
    Secret. D'Ormea plies his trade betimes!
    I purpose to resign my crown to you.

    _Cha._ To me?

    _Vic._        Now,--in that chamber.

    _Cha._                               You resign
    The crown to me?

    _Vic._           And time enough, Charles, sure?
    Confess with me, at four-and-sixty years
    A crown 's a load. I covet quiet once
    Before I die, and summoned you for that.

    _Cha._ 'T is I will speak: you ever hated me,
    I bore it,--have insulted me, borne too--
    Now you insult yourself; and I remember
    What I believed you, what you really are,
    And cannot bear it. What! My life has passed
    Under your eye, tormented as you know,--
    Your whole sagacities, one after one,
    At leisure brought to play on me--to prove me
    A fool, I thought and I submitted; now
    You'd prove ... what would you prove me?

    _Vic._                                   This to me?
    I hardly know you!

    _Cha._             Know me? Oh indeed
    You do not! Wait till I complain next time
    Of my simplicity!--for here 's a sage
    Knows the world well, is not to be deceived,
    And his experience and his Macchiavels,
    D'Ormeas, teach him--what?--that I this while
    Have envied him his crown! He has not smiled,
    I warrant,--has not eaten, drunk, nor slept,
    For I was plotting with my Princess yonder!
    Who knows what we might do or might not do?
    Go now, be politic, astound the world!
    That sentry in the antechamber--nay,
    The varlet who disposed this precious trap
                                        [_Pointing to the crown._
    That was to take me--ask them if they think
    Their own sons envy them their posts!--Know me!

    _Vic._ But you know me, it seems: so, learn, in brief,
    My pleasure. This assembly is convened ...

    _Cha._ Tell me, that woman put it in your head!
    You were not sole contriver of the scheme,
    My father!

    _Vic._     Now observe me, sir! I jest
    Seldom--on these points, never. Here, I say,
    The knights assemble to see me concede,
    And you accept, Sardinia's crown.

    _Cha._                            Farewell!
    'T were vain to hope to change this: I can end it.
    Not that I cease from being yours, when sunk
    Into obscurity: I 'll die for you,
    But not annoy you with my presence. Sir,
    Farewell! Farewell!

(_Enter_ D'ORMEA.)

    _D'O._ [_Aside._] Ha, sure he's changed again--
    Means not to fall into the cunning trap!
    Then, Victor, I shall yet escape you, Victor!

    _Vic._ [_Suddenly placing the crown upon the head of_ CHARLES.]
                                           D'Ormea, your king!
    [_To_ CHA.]         My son, obey me! Charles,
    Your father, clearer-sighted than yourself,
    Decides it must be so. 'Faith, this looks real!
    My reasons after; reason upon reason
    After: but now, obey me! Trust in me!
    By this, you save Sardinia, you save me!
    Why, the boy swoons! [_To D'O._] Come this side!

    _D'O._ [_As_ CHARLES _turns from him to_ VICTOR.] You persist?

    _Vic._ Yes, I conceive the gesture's meaning. 'Faith,
    He almost seems to hate you: how is that?
    Be reassured, my Charles! Is 't over now?
    Then, Marquis, tell the new King what remains
    To do! A moment's work. Del Borgo reads
    The Act of Abdication out, you sign it,
    Then I sign; after that, come back to me.

    _D'O._ Sir, for the last time, pause!

    _Vic._                                Five minutes longer
    I am your sovereign, Marquis. Hesitate--
    And I 'll so turn those minutes to account
    That ... Ay, you recollect me! [_Aside._] Could I bring
    My foolish mind to undergo the reading
    That Act of Abdication!       [_As_ CHARLES _motions_ D'ORMEA
                                   _to precede him._
                            Thanks, dear Charles!        [CHARLES
                                          _and_ D'ORMEA _retire_.

    _Vic._ A novel feature in the boy,--indeed
    Just what I feared he wanted most. Quite right,
    This earnest tone: your truth, now for effect!
    It answers every purpose: with that look,
    That voice,--I hear him: "I began no treaty,"
    (He speaks to Spain,) "nor ever dreamed of this
    You show me; this I from my soul regret;
    But if my father signed it, bid not me
    Dishonor him--who gave me all, beside:"
    And, "true," says Spain, "'t were harsh to visit that
    Upon the Prince." Then come the nobles trooping:
    "I grieve at these exactions--I had cut
    This hand off ere impose them; but shall I
    Undo my father's deed?"--and they confer:
    "Doubtless he was no party, after all;
    Give the Prince time!"
                           Ay, give us time, but time!
    Only, he must not, when the dark day comes,
    Refer our friends to me and frustrate all.
    We 'll have no child's play, no desponding fits,
    No Charles at each cross turn entreating Victor
    To take his crown again. Guard against that!

(_Enter_ D'ORMEA.)

    Long live King Charles!
                            No--Charles's counsellor!
    Well, is it over, Marquis? Did I jest?

    _D'O._ "King Charles!" What then may you be?

    _Vic._                                       Anything!
    A country gentleman that, cured of bustle,
    Now beats a quick retreat toward Chambery,
    Would hunt and hawk and leave you noisy folk
    To drive your trade without him. I'm Count Remont--
    Count Tende--any little place's Count!

    _D'O._ Then Victor, Captain against Catinat
    At Staffarde, where the French beat you; and Duke
    At Turin, where you beat the French; King late
    Of Savoy, Piedmont, Montferrat, Sardinia,
    --Now, "any little place's Count"--

    _Vic._                              Proceed!

    _D'O._ Breaker of vows to God, who crowned you first;
    Breaker of vows to man, who kept you since;
    Most profligate to me who outraged God
    And man to serve you, and am made pay crimes
    I was but privy to, by passing thus
    To your imbecile son--who, well you know,
    Must--(when the people here, and nations there,
    Clamor for you the main delinquent, slipped
    From King to--"Count of any little place)"
    Must needs surrender me, all in his reach,--
    I, sir, forgive you: for I see the end--
    See you on your return--(you will return)--
    To him you trust, a moment ...

    _Vic._                         Trust him? How?
    My poor man, merely a prime-minister,
    Make me know where my trust errs!

    _D'O._                            In his fear,
    His love, his--but discover for yourself
    What you are weakest, trusting in!

    _Vic._                             Aha,
    D'Ormea, not a shrewder scheme than this
    In your repertory? You know old Victor--
    Vain, choleric, inconstant, rash--(I 've heard
    Talkers who little thought the King so close)--
    Felicitous now, were 't not, to provoke him
    To clean forget, one minute afterward,
    His solemn act, and call the nobles back
    And pray them give again the very power
    He has abjured?--for the dear sake of what?
    Vengeance on you, D'Ormea! No: such am I,
    Count Tende or Count anything you please,
    --Only, the same that did the things you say,
    And, among other things you say not, used
    Your finest fibre, meanest muscle,--you
    I used, and now, since you will have it so,
    Leave to your fate--mere lumber in the midst,
    You and your works. Why, what on earth beside
    Are you made for, you sort of ministers?

    _D'O._ Not left, though, to my fate! Your witless son
    Has more wit than to load himself with lumber:
    He foils you that way, and I follow you.

    _Vic._ Stay with my son--protect the weaker side!

    _D'O._ Ay, to be tossed the people like a rag,
    And flung by them for Spain and Austria's sport,
    Abolishing the record of your part
    In all this perfidy!

    _Vic_.               Prevent, beside,
    My own return!

    _D'O._         That's half prevented now!
    'Twill go hard but you find a wondrous charm
    In exile, to discredit me. The Alps,
    Silk-mills to watch, vines asking vigilance--
    Hounds open for the stag, your hawk's a-wing--
    Brave days that wait the Louis of the South,
    Italy's Janus!

    _Vic._         So, the lawyer's clerk
    Won't tell me that I shall repent!

    _D'O._                             You give me
    Full leave to ask if you repent?

    _Vic._                           Whene'er
    Sufficient time's elapsed for that, you judge!
                                [_Shouts inside_, "KING CHARLES!"

    _D'O._ Do you repent?

    _Vic._ [_After a slight pause_.] ... I've kept them waiting? Yes!
    Come in, complete the Abdication, sir!        [_They go out._

(_Enter_ POLYXENA.)

    _Pol._ A shout! The sycophants are free of Charles!
    Oh, is not this like Italy? No fruit
    Of his or my distempered fancy, this,
    But just an ordinary fact! Beside,
    Here they've set forms for such proceedings; Victor
    Imprisoned his own mother: he should know,
    If any, how a son's to be deprived
    Of a son's right. Our duty's palpable.
    Ne'er was my husband for the wily king
    And the unworthy subjects: be it so!
    Come you safe out of them, my Charles! Our life
    Grows not the broad and dazzling life, I dreamed
    Might prove your lot; for strength was shut in you
    None guessed but I--strength which, untrammelled once,
    Had little shamed your vaunted ancestry--
    Patience and self-devotion, fortitude,
    Simplicity and utter truthfulness
    --All which, they shout to lose!
                                     So, now my work
    Begins--to save him from regret. Save Charles
    Regret?--the noble nature! He's not made
    Like these Italians: 'tis a German soul.

(CHARLES _enters crowned_.)

    Oh, where's the King's heir? Gone:--the Crown-prince? Gone:--
    Where's Savoy? Gone!--Sardinia? Gone! But Charles
    Is left! And when my Rhine-land bowers arrive,
    If he looked almost handsome yester-twilight
    As his gray eyes seemed widening into black
    Because I praised him, then how will he look?
    Farewell, you stripped and whited mulberry-trees
    Bound each to each by lazy ropes of vine!
    Now I'll teach you my language: I'm not forced
    To speak Italian now, Charles?
    [_She sees the crown._]        What is this?
    Answer me--who has done this? Answer!

    _Cha._                                He!
    I am King now.

    _Pol._         Oh worst, worst, worst of all!
    Tell me! What, Victor? He has made you King?
    What 's he then? What 's to follow this? You, King?

    _Cha._ Have I done wrong? Yes, for you were not by!

    _Pol._ Tell me from first to last.

    _Cha._                             Hush--a new world
    Brightens before me; he is moved away
    --The dark form that eclipsed it, he subsides
    Into a shape supporting me like you,
    And I, alone, tend upward, more and more
    Tend upward: I am grown Sardinia's King.

    _Pol._ Now stop: was not this Victor, Duke of Savoy
    At ten years old?

    _Cha._            He was.

    _Pol._                    And the Duke spent,
    Since then, just four-and-fifty years in toil
    To be--what?

    _Cha._       King.

    _Pol._             Then why unking himself?

    _Cha._ Those years are cause enough.

    _Pol._                               The only cause?

    _Cha._ Some new perplexities.

    _Pol._                        Which you can solve
    Although he cannot?

    _Cha._              He assures me so.

    _Pol._ And this he means shall last--how long?

    _Cha._                                         How long?
    Think you I fear the perils I confront?
    He's praising me before the people's face--
    My people!

    _Pol._     Then he's changed--grown kind, the King?
    Where can the trap be?

    _Cha._                 Heart and soul I pledge!
    My father, could I guard the crown you gained,
    Transmit as I received it,--all good else
    Would I surrender!

    _Pol._             Ah, it opens then
    Before you, all you dreaded formerly?
    You are rejoiced to be a king, my Charles?

    _Cha._ So much to dare? The better,--much to dread;
    The better. I'll adventure though alone.
    Triumph or die, there 's Victor still to witness
    Who dies or triumphs--either way, alone!

    _Pol._ Once I had found my share in triumph, Charles,
    Or death.

    _Cha._    But you are I! But you I call
    To take, Heaven's proxy, vows I tendered Heaven
    A moment since. I will deserve the crown!

    _Pol._ You will. [_Aside._] No doubt it were a glorious thing
    For any people, if a heart like his
    Ruled over it. I would I saw the trap.

(_Enter_ VICTOR.)

    'T is he must show me.

    _Vic._                 So, the mask falls off
    An old man's foolish love at last. Spare thanks!
    I know you, and Polyxena I know.
    Here's Charles--I am his guest now--does he bid me
    Be seated? And my light-haired blue-eyed child
    Must not forget the old man far away
    At Chambery, who dozes while she reigns.

    _Pol._ Most grateful shall we now be, talking least
    Of gratitude--indeed of anything
    That hinders what yourself must need to say
    To Charles.

    _Cha._      Pray speak, sir!

    _Vic._                       'Faith, not much to say:
    Only what shows itself, you once i' the point
    Of sight. You're now the King: you 'll comprehend
    Much you may oft have wondered at--the shifts,
    Dissimulation, wiliness I showed.
    For what's our post? Here 's Savoy and here 's Piedmont,
    Here's Montferrat--a breadth here, a space there--
    To o'er-sweep all these, what 's one weapon worth?
    I often think of how they fought in Greece
    (Or Rome, which was it? You 're the scholar, Charles!)
    You made a front-thrust? But if your shield too
    Were not adroitly planted, some shrewd knave
    Reached you behind; and him foiled, straight if thong
    And handle of that shield were not cast loose,
    And you enabled to outstrip the wind,
    Fresh foes assailed you, either side; 'scape these,
    And reach your place of refuge--e'en then, odds
    If the gate opened unless breath enough
    Were left in you to make its lord a speech.
    Oh, you will see!

    _Cha._            No: straight on shall I go,
    Truth helping; win with it or die with it.

    _Vic._ 'Faith, Charles, you're not made Europe's fighting-man!
    The barrier-guarder, if you please. You clutch
    Hold and consolidate, with envious France
    This side, with Austria that, the territory
    I held--ay, and will hold ... which _you_ shall hold
    Despite the couple! But I've surely earned
    Exemption from these weary politics,
    --The privilege to prattle with my son
    And daughter here, though Europe wait the while.

    _Pol._ Nay, sir,--at Chambery, away forever,
    As soon you will be, 't is farewell we bid you:
    Turn these few fleeting moments to account!
    'T is just as though it were a death.

    _Vic._                                Indeed!

    _Pol._ [_Aside._] Is the trap there?

    _Cha._                               Ay, call this parting--death!
    The sacreder your memory becomes.
    If I misrule Sardinia, how bring back
    My father?

    _Vic._     I mean...

    _Pol._ [_who watches_ VICTOR _narrowly this while_].
                                     Your father does not mean
    You should be ruling for your father's sake:
    It is your people must concern you wholly
    Instead of him. You mean this, sir? (He drops
    My hand!)

    _Cha._    That people is now part of me.

    _Vic._ About the people! I took certain measures
    Some short time since ... Oh, I know well, you know
    But little of my measures! These affect
    The nobles; we've resumed some grants, imposed
    A tax or two: prepare yourself, in short,
    For clamor on that score. Mark me: you yield
    No jot of aught entrusted you!

    _Pol._                         No jot
    You yield!

    _Cha._     My father, when I took the oath,
    Although my eye might stray in search of yours,
    I heard it, understood it, promised God
    What you require. Till from this eminence
    He move me, here I keep, nor shall concede
    The meanest of my rights.

    _Vic._ [_Aside._]         The boy's a fool!
    --Or rather, I'm a fool: for, what's wrong here?
    To-day the sweets of reigning: let to-morrow
    Be ready with its bitters.

(_Enter_ D'ORMEA.)

                               There 's beside
    Somewhat to press upon your notice first.

    _Cha._ Then why delay it for an instant, sir?
    That Spanish claim perchance? And, now you speak,
    --This morning, my opinion was mature,
    Which, boy-like, I was bashful in producing
    To one I ne'er am like to fear in future!
    My thought is formed upon that Spanish claim.

    _Vic._ Betimes indeed. Not now, Charles! You require
    A host of papers on it.

    _D'O._ [_Coming forward._] Here they are.
    [_To_ CHA.] I, sir, was minister and much beside
    Of the late monarch; to say little, him
    I served: on you I have, to say e'en less.
    No claim. This case contains those papers: with them
    I tender you my office.

    _Vic._ [_Hastily._]     Keep him, Charles!
    There's reason for it--many reasons: you
    Distrust him, nor are so far-wrong there,--but
    He's mixed up in this matter--he'll desire
    To quit you, for occasions known to me:
    Do not accept those reasons: have him stay!

    _Pol._ [_Aside._] His minister thrust on us!

    _Cha._ [_To D'O._]                           Sir, believe,
    In justice to myself, you do not need
    E'en this commending: howsoe'er might seem
    My feelings toward you, as a private man,
    They quit me in the vast and untried field
    Of action. Though I shall myself (as late
    In your own hearing I engaged to do)
    Preside o'er my Sardinia, yet your help
    Is necessary. Think the past forgotten
    And serve me now!

    _D'O._            I did not offer you
    My service--would that I could serve you, sir!
    As for the Spanish matter ...

    _Vic._                        But dispatch
    At least the dead, in my good daughter's phrase,
    Before the living! Help to house me safe
    Ere with D'Ormea you set the world agape!
    Here is a paper--will you overlook
    What I propose reserving for my needs?
    I get as far from you as possible:
    Here 's what I reckon my expenditure.

    _Cha._ [_Reading._] A miserable fifty thousand crowns!

    _Vic._ Oh, quite enough for country gentlemen!
    Beside, the exchequer happens ... but find out
    All that, yourself!

    _Cha._ [_Still reading._] "Count Tende"--what means this?

    _Vic._ Me: you were but an infant when I burst
    Through the defile of Tende upon France.
    Had only my allies kept true to me!
    No matter. Tende's, then, a name I take
    Just as ...

    _D'O._      --The Marchioness Sebastian takes
    The name of Spigno.

    _Cha._              How, sir?

    _Vic._ [_To D'O._]            Fool! All that
    Was for my own detailing. [_To_ CHA.] That anon!

    _Cha._ [_To D'O._] Explain what you have said, sir!

    _D'O._                                              I supposed
    The marriage of the King to her I named,
    Profoundly kept a secret these few weeks,
    Was not to be one, now he's Count.

    _Pol._ [_Aside._]                  With us
    The minister--with him the mistress!

    _Cha._ [_To_ VIC.]                   No--
    Tell me you have not taken her--that woman--
    To live with, past recall!

    _Vic._                     And where 's the crime ...

    _Pol._ [_To_ CHA.] True, sir, this is a matter past recall
    And past your cognizance. A day before,
    And you had been compelled to note this--now
    Why note it? The King saved his House from shame:
    What the Count did, is no concern of yours.

    _Cha._ [_After a pause._] The Spanish claim, D'Ormea!

    _Vic._                                                Why, my son,
    I took some ill-advised ... one's age, in fact,
    Spoils everything: though I was overreached,
    A younger brain, we 'll trust, may extricate
    Sardinia readily. To-morrow, D'Ormea,
    Inform the King!

    _D'O._ [_Without regarding_ VICTOR, _and leisurely_.]
                     Thus stands the ease with Spain:
    When first the Infant Carlos claimed his proper
    Succession to the throne of Tuscany ...

    _Vic._ I tell you, that stands over! Let that rest!
    There is the policy!

    _Cha._ [_To D'O._]   Thus much I know,
    And more--too much. The remedy?

    _D'O._                          Of course!
    No glimpse of one.

    _Vic._             No remedy at all!
    It makes the remedy itself--time makes it.

    _D'O._ [_To_ CHA.] But if ...

    _Vic._ [_Still more hastily._] In fine, I shall take care of that:
    And, with another project that I have ...

    _D'O._ [_Turning on him._] Oh, since Count Tende means to take again
    King Victor's crown!--

    _Pol._ [_Throwing herself at_ VICTOR'S _feet._]
                           E'en now retake it, sir!
    Oh, speak! We are your subjects both, once more!
    Say it--a word effects it! You meant not,
    Nor do mean now, to take it: but you must!
    'T is in you--in your nature--and the shame 's
    Not half the shame 't would grow to afterwards!

    _Cha._ Polyxena!

    _Pol._           A word recalls the knights--
    Say it!--What 's promising and what 's the past?
    Say you are still King Victor!

    _D'O._                         Better say
    The Count repents, in brief!
                                      [VICTOR _rises_.

    _Cha._                       With such a crime
    I have not charged you, sir!

    _Pol._                       Charles turns from me!



_Enter_ QUEEN POLYXENA _and_ D'ORMEA.--_A pause._

    _Pol._ And now, sir, what have you to say?

    _D'O._.                                    Count Tende ...

    _Pol._ Affirm not I betrayed you; you resolve
    On uttering this strange intelligence
    --Nay, post yourself to find me ere I reach
    The capital, because you know King Charles
    Tarries a day or two at Evian baths
    Behind me:--but take warning,--here and thus
                            [_Seating herself in the royal seat._
    I listen, if I listen--not your friend.
    Explicitly the statement, if you still
    Persist to urge it on me, must proceed:
    I am not made for aught else.

    _D'O._                        Good! Count Tende ...

    _Pol._ I, who mistrust you, shall acquaint King Charles,
    Who even more mistrusts you.

    _D'O._                       Does he so?

    _Pol._ Why should he not?

    _D'O._                    Ay, why not? Motives, seek
    You virtuous people, motives! Say, I serve
    God at the devil's bidding--will that do?
    I 'm proud: our people have been pacified,
    Really I know not how--

    _Pol._                  By truthfulness.

    _D'O._ Exactly; that shows I had naught to do
    With pacifying them. Our foreign perils
    Also exceed my means to stay: but here
    'T is otherwise, and my pride 's piqued. Count Tende
    Completes a full year's absence: would you, madam,
    Have the old monarch back, his mistress back,
    His measures back? I pray you, act upon
    My counsel, or they will be.

    _Pol._                       When?

    _D'O._                             Let 's think.
    Home-matters settled--Victor 's coming now;
    Let foreign matters settle--Victor 's here
    Unless I stop him; as I will, this way.

    _Pol._ [_Reading the papers he presents_.] If this should prove a
             plot 'twixt you and Victor?
    You seek annoyances to give the pretext
    For what you say you fear!

    _D'O._                     Oh, possibly!
    I go for nothing. Only show King Charles
    That thus Count Tende purposes return,
    And style me his inviter, if you please!

    _Pol._ Half of your tale is true; most like, the Count
    Seeks to return: but why stay you with us?
    To aid in such emergencies.

    _D'O._                      Keep safe
    Those papers: or, to serve me, leave no proof
    I thus have counselled! When the Count returns,
    And the King abdicates, 't will stead me little
    To have thus counselled.

    _Pol._                   The King abdicate!

    _D'O._ He 's good, we knew long since--wise, we discover--
    Firm, let us hope:--but I 'd have gone to work
    With him away. Well!

    [CHARLES _without_.] In the Council Chamber?

    _D'O._ All 's lost!

    _Pol._ Oh, surely not King Charles! He 's changed--
    That 's not this year's care-burdened voice and step:
    'T is last year's step, the Prince's voice!

    _D'O._                                      I know.

(_Enter_ CHARLES --D'ORMEA _retiring a little_.)

    _Cha._ Now wish me joy, Polyxena! Wish it me
    The old way!                        [_She embraces him._
                 There was too much cause for that!
    But I have found myself again. What news
    At Turin? Oh, if you but felt the load
    I 'm free of--free! I said this year would end
    Or it, or me--but I am free, thank God!

    _Pol._ How, Charles?

    _Cha._ You do not guess? The day I found
    Sardinia's hideous coil, at home, abroad,
    And how my father was involved in it,--
    Of course, I vowed to rest and smile no more
    Until I cleared his name from obloquy.
    We did the people right--'t was much to gain
    That point, redress our nobles' grievance, too--
    But that took place here, was no crying shame:
    All must be done abroad,--if I abroad
    Appeased the justly-angered Powers, destroyed
    The scandal, took down Victor's name at last
    From a bad eminence, I then might breathe
    And rest! No moment was to lose. Behold
    The proud result--a Treaty, Austria, Spain
    Agree to--

    _D'O._ [_Aside._] I shall merely stipulate
    For an experienced headsman.

    _Cha._                       Not a soul
    Is compromised: the blotted past 's a blank:
    Even D'Ormea escapes unquestioned. See!
    It reached me from Vienna; I remained
    At Evian to dispatch the Count his news;
    'T is gone to Chambery a week ago--
    And here am I: do I deserve to feel
    Your warm white arms around me?

    _D'O._ [_Coming forward._]      He knows that?

    _Cha._ What, in Heaven's name, means this?

    _D'O._                                     He knows that matters
    Are settled at Vienna? Not too late!
    Plainly, unless you post this very hour
    Some man you trust (say, me) to Chambery
    And take precautions I acquaint you with,
    Your father will return here.

    _Cha._                        Are you crazed,
    D'Ormea? Here? For what? As well return
    To take his crown!

    _D'O._             He will return for that.

    _Cha._ [_To_ POL.] You have not listened to this man?

    _Pol._                                              He spoke
    About your safety--and I listened.
                          [_He disengages himself from her arms._

    _Cha._ [_To D'O._]                 What
    Apprised you of the Count's intentions?

    _D'O._                                  Me?
    His heart, sir; you may not be used to read
    Such evidence however; therefore read
                              [_Pointing to_ POLYXENA'S _papers_.
    My evidence.

    _Cha._ [_To_ POL.] Oh, worthy this of you!
    And of your speech I never have forgotten,
    Though I professed forgetfulness; which haunts me
    As if I did not know how false it was;
    Which made me toil unconsciously thus long
    That there might be no least occasion left
    For aught of its prediction coming true!
    And now, when there is left no least occasion
    To instigate my father to such crime--
    When I might venture to forget (I hoped)
    That speech and recognize Polyxena--
    Oh worthy, to revive, and tenfold worse,
    That plague! D'Ormea at your ear, his slanders
    Still in your hand! Silent?

    _Pol._                      As the wronged are.

    _Cha._ And you, D'Ormea, since when have you presumed
    To spy upon my father? I conceive
    What that wise paper shows, and easily.
    Since when?

    _D'O._      The when and where and how belong
    To me. 'T is sad work, but I deal in such.
    You ofttimes serve yourself; I'd serve you here:
    Use makes me not so squeamish. In a word,
    Since the first hour he went to Chambery,
    Of his seven servants, five have I suborned.

    _Cha._ You hate my father?

    _D'O._                     Oh, just as you will!
                                          [_Looking at_ POLYXENA.
    A minute since, I loved him--hate him, now!
    What matter?--if you ponder just one thing:
    Has he that treaty?--he is setting forward
    Already. Are your guards here?

    _Cha._                         Well for you
    They are not! [_To_ POL.] Him I knew of old, but you--
    To hear that pickthank, further his designs!       [_To_ D'O.
    Guards?--were they here, I 'd bid them, for your trouble,
    Arrest you.

    _D'O._      Guards you shall not want. I lived
    The servant of your choice, not of your need.
    You never greatly needed me till now
    That you discard me. This is my arrest.
    Again I tender you my charge--its duty
    Would bid me press you read those documents.
    Here, sir!                   [_Offering his badge of Office._

    _Cha._ [_Taking it._] The papers also! Do you think
    I dare not read them?

    _Pol._                Read them, sir!

    _Cha._                                They prove,
    My father, still a month within the year
    Since he so solemnly consigned it me,
    Means to resume his crown? They shall prove that,
    Or my best dungeon ...

    _D'O._                 Even say, Chambery!
    'T is vacant, I surmise, by this.

    _Cha._                            You prove
    Your words or pay their forfeit, sir. Go there!
    Polyxena, one chance to rend the veil
    Thickening and blackening 'twixt us two! Do say,
    You 'll see the falsehood of the charges proved!
    Do say, at least, you wish to see them proved
    False charges--my heart's love of other times!

    _Pol._ Ah, Charles!

    _Cha._ [_To D'O._]    Precede me, sir!

    _D'O._                               And I 'm at length
    A martyr for the truth! No end, they say,
    Of miracles. My conscious innocence!

(_As they go out, enter--by the middle door, at which he

    _Vic._ Sure I heard voices? No. Well, I do best
    To make at once for this, the heart o' the place.
    The old room! Nothing changed! So near my seat,
    D'Ormea?    [_Pushing away the stool which is by the_ KING'S _chair_.
             I want that meeting over first,
    I know not why. Tush, he, D'Ormea, slow
    To hearten me, the supple knave? That burst
    Of spite so eased him! He 'll inform me ...
    Why come I hither? All 's in rough: let all
    Remain rough. There 's full time to draw back--nay,
    There 's naught to draw back from, as yet; whereas,
    If reason should be, to arrest a course
    Of error--reason good, to interpose
    And save, as I have saved so many times,
    Our House, admonish my son's giddy youth,
    Relieve him of a weight that proves too much--
    Now is the time,--or now, or never.
    This kind of step is pitiful, not due
    To Charles, this stealing back--hither, because
    He 's from his capital! Oh Victor! Victor!
    But thus it is. The age of crafty men
    Is loathsome; youth contrives to carry off
    Dissimulation; we may intersperse
    Extenuating passages of strength,
    Ardor, vivacity and wit--may turn
    E'en guile into a voluntary grace:
    But one's old age, when graces drop away
    And leave guile the pure staple of our lives--
    Ah, loathsome!
                   Not so--or why pause I? Turin
    Is mine to have, were I so minded, for
    The asking; all the army 's mine--I 've witnessed
    Each private fight beneath me; all the Court 's
    Mine too; and, best of all, D'Ormea's still
    D'Ormea and mine. There 's some grace clinging yet.
    Had I decided on this step, ere midnight
    I 'd take the crown.
                         No. Just this step to rise
    Exhausts me. Here am I arrived: the rest
    Must be done for me. Would I could sit here
    And let things right themselves, the masque unmasque
    Of the old King, crownless, gray hair and hot blood,--
    The young King, crowned, but calm before his time,
    They say,--the eager mistress with her taunts,--
    And the sad earnest wife who motions me
    Away--ay, there she knelt to me! E'en yet
    I can return and sleep at Chambery
    A dream out.
                 Rather shake it off at Turin,
    King Victor! Say: to Turin--yes, or no?
      'T is this relentless noonday-lighted chamber.
    Lighted like life but silent as the grave,
    That disconcerts me. That 's the change must strike.
    No silence last year! Some one flung doors wide
    (Those two great doors which scrutinize me now)
    And out I went 'mid crowds of men--men talking,
    Men watching if my lip fell or brow knit,
    Men saw me safe forth, put me on my road:
    That makes the misery of this return.
    Oh had a battle done it! Had I dropped,
    Haling some battle, three entire days old,
    Hither and thither by the forehead--dropped
    In Spain, in Austria, best of all, in France--
    Spurned on its horns or underneath its hoofs,
    When the spent monster went upon its knees
    To pad and pash the prostrate wretch--I, Victor,
    Sole to have stood up against France, beat down
    By inches, brayed to pieces finally
    In some vast unimaginable charge,
    A flying hell of horse and foot and guns
    Over me, and all 's lost, forever lost,
    There 's no more Victor when the world wakes up!
    Then silence, as of a raw battlefield,
    Throughout the world. Then after (as whole days
    After, you catch at intervals faint noise
    Through the stiff crust of frozen blood)--there creeps
    A rumor forth, so faint, no noise at all,
    That a strange old man, with face outworn for wounds,
    Is stumbling on from frontier town to town,
    Begging a pittance that may help him find
    His Turin out; what scorn and laughter follow
    The coin you fling into his cap! And last,
    Some bright morn, how men crowd about the midst
    O' the market-place, where takes the old king breath
    Ere with his crutch he strike the palace-gate
    Wide ope!
              To Turin, yes or no--or no?

(_Re-enter_ CHARLES _with papers_.)

    _Cha._ Just as I thought! A miserable falsehood
    Of hirelings discontented with their pay
    And longing for enfranchisement! A few
    Testy expressions of old age that thinks
    To keep alive its dignity o'er slaves
    By means that suit their natures!           [_Tearing them._]
                                     Thus they shake
    My faith in Victor!          [_Turning, he discovers_ VICTOR.

    _Vic._ [_After a pause._] Not at Evian, Charles?
    What's this? Why do you run to close the doors?
    No welcome for your father?

    _Cha._ [_Aside._]             Not his voice!
    What would I give for one imperious tone
    Of the old sort! That's gone forever.

    _Vic._                                Must
    I ask once more ...

    _Cha._              No--I concede it, sir!
    You are returned for ... true, your health declines;
    True, Chambery 's a bleak unkindly spot;
    You 'd choose one fitter for your final lodge--
    Veneria, or Moncaglier--ay, that's close
    And I concede it.

    _Vic._            I received advices
    Of the conclusion of the Spanish matter,
    Dated from Evian Baths ...

    _Cha._                     And you forbore
    To visit me at Evian, satisfied
    The work I had to do would fully task
    The little wit I have, and that your presence
    Would only disconcert me--

    _Vic._                     Charles?

    _Cha._                              --Me, set
    Forever in a foreign course to yours,
    And ...
            Sir, this way of wile were good to catch,
    But I have not the sleight of it. The truth!
    Though I sink under it! What brings you here?

    _Vic._ Not hope of this reception, certainly,
    From one who 'd scarce assume a stranger mode
    Of speech, did I return to bring about
    Some awfullest calamity!

    _Cha._                   --You mean,
    Did you require your crown again! Oh yes,
    I should speak otherwise! But turn not that
    To jesting! Sir, the truth! Your health declines?
    Is aught deficient in your equipage?
    Wisely you seek myself to make complaint,
    And foil the malice of the world which laughs
    At petty discontents; but I shall care
    That not a soul knows of this visit. Speak!

    _Vic._ [_Aside._] Here is the grateful much-professing son
    Prepared to worship me, for whose sole sake
    I think to waive my plans of public good!
    [_Aloud._] Nay, Charles, if I did seek to take once more
    My crown, were so disposed to plague myself,
    What would be warrant for this bitterness?
    I gave it--grant I would resume it--well?

    _Cha._ I should say simply--leaving out the why
    And how--you made me swear to keep that crown:
    And as you then intended ...

    _Vic._                       Fool! What way
    Could I intend or not intend? As man,
    With a man's will, when I say "I intend,"
    I can intend up to a certain point,
    No farther. I intended to preserve
    The crown of Savoy and Sardinia whole:
    And if events arise demonstrating
    The way, I hoped should guard it, rather like
    To lose it ...

    _Cha._         Keep within your sphere and mine!
    It is God's province we usurp on, else.
    Here, blindfold through the maze of things we walk
    By a slight clue of false, true, right and wrong;
    All else is rambling and presumption. I
    Have sworn to keep this kingdom: there's my truth.

    _Vic._ Truth, boy, is here, within my breast; and in
    Your recognition of it, truth is, too;
    And in the effect of all this tortuous dealing
    With falsehood, used to carry out the truth,
    --In its success, this falsehood turns, again,
    Truth for the world! But you are right: these themes
    Are over-subtle. I should rather say
    In such a case, frankly,--it fails, my scheme:
    I hoped to see you bring about, yourself,
    What I must bring about. I interpose
    On your behalf--with my son's good in sight--
    To hold what he is nearly letting go,
    Confirm his title, add a grace perhaps.
    There's Sicily, for instance,--granted me
    And taken back, some years since: till I give
    That island with the rest, my work's half done.
    For his sake, therefore, as of those he rules ...

    _Cha._ Our sakes are one; and that, you could not say,
    Because my answer would present itself
    Forthwith:--a year has wrought an age's change.
    This people's not the people now, you once
    Could benefit; nor is my policy
    Your policy.

    _Vic._ [_With an outburst._] I know it! You undo
    All I have done--my life of toil and care!
    I left you this the absolutest rule
    In Europe: do you think I sit and smile,
    Bid you throw power to the populace--
    See my Sardinia, that has kept apart,
    Join in the mad and democratic whirl
    Whereto I see all Europe haste full tide?
    England casts off her kings; France mimics England:
    This realm I hoped was safe! Yet here I talk,
    When I can save it, not by force alone,
    But bidding plagues, which follow sons like you,
    Fasten upon my disobedient ...
      [_Recollecting himself._] Surely
    I could say this--if minded so--my son?

    _Cha._ You could not. Bitterer curses than your curse
    Have I long since denounced upon myself
    If I misused my power. In fear of these
    I entered on those measures--will abide
    By them: so, I should say, Count Tende ...

    _Vic._                                    No!
    But no! But if, my Charles, your--more than old--
    Half-foolish father urged these arguments,
    And then confessed them futile, but said plainly
    That he forgot his promise, found his strength
    Fail him, had thought at savage Chambery
    Too much of brilliant Turin, Rivoli here,
    And Susa, and Veneria, and Superga--
    Pined for the pleasant places he had built
    When he was fortunate and young--

    _Cha._                           My father!

    _Vic._ Stay yet!--and if he said he could not die
    Deprived of baubles he had put aside,
    He deemed, forever--of the Crown that binds
    Your brain up, whole, sound and impregnable,
    Creating kingliness--the Sceptre too,
    Whose mere wind, should you wave it, back would beat
    Invaders--and the golden Ball which throbs
    As if you grasped the palpitating heart
    Indeed o' the realm, to mould as choose you may!
    --If I must totter up and down the streets
    My sires built, where myself have introduced
    And fostered laws and letters, sciences,
    The civil and the military arts!
    Stay, Charles! I see you letting me pretend
    To live my former self once more--King Victor,
    The venturous yet politic: they style me
    Again, the Father of the Prince: friends wink
    Good-humoredly at the delusion you
    So sedulously guard from all rough truths
    That else would break upon my dotage!--You--
    Whom now I see preventing my old shame--
    I tell not, point by cruel point, my tale--
    For is't not in your breast my brow is hid?
    Is not your hand extended? Say you not ...

(_Enter_ D'ORMEA, _leading in_ POLYXENA.)

    _Pol._ [_Advancing and withdrawing_ CHARLES--_to_ VICTOR.]
    In this conjuncture even, he would say
    (Though with a moistened eye and quivering lip)
    The suppliant is my father. I must save
    A great man from himself, nor see him fling
    His well-earned fame away: there must not follow
    Ruin so utter, a break-down of worth
    So absolute: no enemy shall learn,
    He thrust his child 'twist danger and himself.
    And, when that child somehow stood danger out,
    Stole back with serpent wiles to ruin Charles
    --Body, that's much,--and soul, that's more--and realm,
    That's most of all! No enemy shall say ...

    _D'O._ Do you repent, sir?

    _Vic._ [_Resuming himself._] D'Ormea? This is well!
    Worthily done, King Charles, craftily done!
    Judiciously you post these, to o'erhear
    The little your importunate father thrusts
    Himself on you to say!--Ah, they'll correct
    The amiable blind facility
    You show in answering his peevish suit.
    What can he need to sue for? Thanks, D'Ormea!
    You have fulfilled your office: but for you,
    The old Count might have drawn some few more livres
    To swell his income! Had you, lady, missed
    The moment, a permission might be granted
    To buttress up my ruinous old pile!
    But you remember properly the list
    Of wise precautions I took when I gave
    Nearly as much away--to reap the fruits
    I should have looked for!

    _Cha._                   Thanks, sir: degrade me,
    So you remain yourself! Adieu!

    _Vic._                        I'll not
    Forget it for the future, nor presume
    Next time to slight such mediators! Nay--
    Had I first moved them both to intercede,
    I might secure a chamber in Moncaglier
    --Who knows?

    _Cha._      Adieu!

    _Vic._            You bid me this adieu
    With the old spirit?

    _Cha._            Adieu!

    _Vic._                 Charles--Charles!

    _Cha._                                 Adieu!

    [VICTOR _goes._

    _Cha._ You were mistaken, Marquis, as you hear!
    'Twas for another purpose the Count came.
    The Count desires Moncaglier. Give the order!

    _D'O._ [_Leisurely._] Your minister has lost your confidence,
    Asserting late, for his own purposes,
    Count Tende would ...

    _Cha._ [_Flinging his badge back._] Be still the minister!
    And give a loose to your insulting joy;
    It irks me more thus stifled than expressed:
    Loose it!

    _D'O._    There's none to loose, alas! I see
    I never am to die a martyr.

    _Pol._                      Charles!

    _Cha._ No praise, at least, Polyxena--no praise!



    D'ORMEA _seated, folding papers he has been examining._

    This at the last effects it: now, King Charles
    Or else King Victor--that's a balance: but now,
    D'Ormea the arch-culprit, either turn
    Of the scale,--that's sure enough. A point to solve,
    My masters, moralists, whate'er your style!
    When you discover why I push myself
    Into a pitfall you'd pass safely by,
    Impart to me among the rest! No matter.
    Prompt are the righteous ever with their rede
    To us the wrongful: lesson them this once!
    For safe among the wicked are you set,
    D'Ormea! We lament life's brevity,
    Yet quarter e'en the threescore years and ten,
    Nor stick to call the quarter roundly "life."
    D'Ormea was wicked, say, some twenty years;
    A tree so long was stunted; afterward,
    What if it grew, continued growing, till
    No fellow of the forest equalled it?
    'Twas a stump then; a stump it still must be:
    While forward saplings, at the outset cheeked,
    In virtue of that first sprout keep their style
    Amid the forest's green fraternity.
    Thus I shoot up to surely get lopped down
    And bound up for the burning. Now for it!

(_Enter_ CHARLES _and_ POLYXENA _with_ Attendants.)

    _D'O._ [_Rises._] Sir, in the due discharge of this my office--
    This enforced summons of yourself from Turin,
    And the disclosure I am bound to make
    To-night,--there must already be, I feel,
    So much that wounds ...

    _Cha._.                 Well, sir?

    _D'O._                             --That I, perchance,
    May utter also what, another time,
    Would irk much,--it may prove less irksome now.

    _Cha._ What would you utter?

    _D'O._                       That I from my soul
    Grieve at to-night's event: for you I grieve,
    E'en grieve for ...

    _Cha._              Tush, another time for talk!
    My kingdom is in imminent danger?

    _D'O._                            Let
    The Count communicate with France--its King,
    His grandson, will have Fleury's aid for this,
    Though for no other war.

    _Cha._                   First for the levies:
    What forces can I muster presently?

    [D'ORMEA _delivers papers which_ CHARLES _inspects._

    _Cha._ Good--very good. Montorio ... how is this?
    --Equips me double the old complement
    Of soldiers?

    _D'O._       Since his land has been relieved
    From double imposts, this he manages:
    But under the late monarch ...

    _Cha._                         Peace! I know.
    Count Spava has omitted mentioning
    What proxy is to head these troops of his.

    _D'O._ Count Spava means to head his troops himself.
    Something to fight for now; "Whereas," says he,
    "Under the sovereign's father" ...

    _Cha._                             It would seem
    That all my people love me.

    _D'O._                      Yes.

    [_To_ POLYXENA _while_ CHARLES _continues to inspect the papers._

                                                A temper
    Like Victor's may avail to keep a state;
    He terrifies men and they fall not off;
    Good to restrain: best, if restraint were all.
    But, with the silent circle round him, ends
    Such sway: our King's begins precisely there.
    For to suggest, impel and set at work,
    Is quite another function. Men may slight,
    In time of peace, the King who brought them peace:
    In war,--his voice, his eyes, help more than fear.
    They love you, sir!

    _Cha._ [_To Attendants._] Bring the regalia, forth!
    Quit the room! And now, Marquis, answer me!
    Why should the King of France invade my realm?

    _D'O._ Why? Did I not acquaint your Majesty
    An hour ago?

    _Cha._       I choose to hear again
    What then I heard.

    _D'O._             Because, sir, as I said,
    Your father is resolved to have his crown
    At any risk; and, as I judge, calls in
    The foreigner to aid him.

    _Cha._                    And your reason
    For saying this?

    _D'O._ [_Aside._] Ay, just his father's way!
    [_To_ CHA.] The Count wrote yesterday to your forces' Chief,
    Rhebinder--made demand of help--

    _Cha._                           To try
    Rhebinder--he 's of alien blood. Aught else?

    _D'O._ Receiving a refusal,--some hours after,
    The Count called on Del Borgo to deliver
    The Act of Abdication: he refusing,
    Or hesitating, rather--

    _Cha._                  What ensued?

    _D'O._ At midnight, only two hours since, at Turin,
    He rode in person to the citadel
    With one attendant, to Soccorso gate,
    And bade the governor, San Remi, open--
    Admit him.

    _Cha._     For a purpose I divine.
    These three were faithful, then?

    _D'O._                           They told it me:
    And I--

    _Cha._ Most faithful--

    _D'O._                  Tell it you--with this
    Moreover of my own: if, an hour hence,
    You have not interposed, the Count will be
    O' the road to France for succor.

    _Cha._                            Very good!
    You do your duty now to me your monarch
    Fully, I warrant?--have, that is, your project
    For saving both of us disgrace, no doubt?

    _D'O._ I give my counsel,--and the only one.
    A month since, I besought you to employ
    Restraints which had prevented many a pang:
    But now the harsher course must be pursued.
    These papers, made for the emergency,
    Will pain you to subscribe: this is a list
    Of those suspected merely--men to watch;
    This--of the few of the Count's very household
    You must, however reluctantly, arrest;
    While here's a method of remonstrance--sure
    Not stronger than the case demands--to take
    With the Count's self.

    _Cha._                 Deliver those three papers.

    _Pol._         [_While_ CHARLES _inspects them--to_ D'ORMEA.]
    Your measures are not over-harsh, sir: France
    Will hardly be deterred from her intents
    By these.

    _D'O._    If who proposes might dispose,
    I could soon satisfy you. Even these,
    Hear what he'll say at my presenting!

    _Cha._ [_who has signed them_]. There!
    About the warrants! You've my signature.
    What turns you pale? I do my duty by you
    In acting boldly thus on your advice.

    _D'O._ [_Reading them separately._] Arrest the people I
              suspected merely?

    _Cha._ Did you suspect them?

    _D'O._                       Doubtless: but--but--sir,
    This Forquieri's governor of Turin,
    And Rivarol and he have influence over
    Half of the capital! Rabella, too?
    Why, sir--

    _Cha._     Oh, leave the fear to me!

    _D'O._ [_Still reading._]            You bid me
    Incarcerate the people on this list?

    _Cha._ But you never bade arrest those men,
    So close related to my father too,
    On trifling grounds?

    _D'O._               Oh, as for that, St. George,
    President of Chambery's senators,
    Is hatching treason! still--
           [_More troubled._] Sir, Count Cumiane
    Is brother to your father's wife! What 's here?
    Arrest the wife herself?

    _Cha._                   You seem to think
    A venial crime this plot against me. Well?

    _D'O._ [_who has read the last paper._] Wherefore am I thus ruined?
              Why not take
    My life at once? This poor formality
    Is, let me say, unworthy you! Prevent it
    You, madam! I have served you, am prepared
    For all disgraces: only, let disgrace
    Be plain, be proper--proper for the world
    To pass its judgment on 'twixt you and me!
    Take back your warrant, I will none of it!

    _Cha._ Here is a man to talk of fickleness!
    He stakes his life upon my father's falsehood;
    I bid him ...

    _D'O._      Not you! Were he trebly false,
    You do not bid me ...

    _Cha._                Is 't not written there?
    I thought so: give--I 'll set it right.

    _D'O._                                  Is it there?
    Oh yes, and plain--arrest him now--drag here
    Your father! And were all six times as plain,
    Do you suppose I trust it?

    _Cha._                     Just one word!
    You bring him, taken in the act of flight,
    Or else your life is forfeit.

    _D'O._                        Ay, to Turin
    I bring him, and to-morrow?

    _Cha._                      Here and now!
    The whole thing is a lie, a hateful lie,
    As I believed and as my father said.
    I knew it from the first, but was compelled
    To circumvent you; and the great D'Ormea,
    That baffled Alberoni and tricked Coscia,
    The miserable sower of such discord
    'Twixt sire and son, is in the toils at last.
    Oh I see! you arrive--this plan of yours,
    Weak as it is, torments sufficiently
    A sick old peevish man--wrings hasty speech,
    An ill-considered threat from him; that's noted;
    Then out you ferret papers, his amusement
    In lonely hours of lassitude--examine
    The day-by-day report of your paid spies--
    And back you come: all was not ripe, you find,
    And, as you hope, may keep from ripening yet,
    But you were in bare time! Only, 'twere best
    I never saw my father--these old men
    Are potent in excuses: and meanwhile,
    D'Ormea's the man I cannot do without!

    _Pol._ Charles--

    _Cha._ Ah, no question! You against me too!
    You 'd have me eat and drink and sleep, live, die,
    With this lie coiled about me, choking me!
    No, no, D'Ormea! You venture life, you say,
    Upon my father's perfidy: and I
    Have, on the whole, no right to disregard
    The chains of testimony you thus wind
    About me; though I do--do from my soul
    Discredit them: still I must authorize
    These measures, and I will. Perugia!
    [_Many_ Officers _enter._]            Count--
    You and Solar, with all the force you have,
    Stand at the Marquis' orders: what he bids,
    Implicitly perform! You are to bring
    A traitor here; the man that 's likest one
    At present, fronts me; you are at his beck
    For a full hour! he undertakes to show
    A fouler than himself,--but, failing that,
    Return with him, and, as my father lives,
    He dies this night! The clemency you blame
    So oft, shall be revoked--rights exercised,
    Too long abjured.
    [_To D'O._]       Now, sir, about the work!
    To save your king and country! Take the warrant!

    _D'O._ You hear the sovereign's mandate, Count Perugia?
    Obey me! As your diligence, expect
    Reward! All follow to Montcaglier!
    [D'ORMEA _goes._

    _Cha._ [_In great anguish._] D'Ormea!
    He goes, lit up with that appalling smile!
    [_To_ POLYXENA _after a pause._
    At least you understand all this?

    _Pol._                            These means
    Of our defence--these measures of precaution?

    _Cha._ It must be the best way: I should have else
    Withered beneath his scorn.

    _Pol._                      What would you say?

    _Cha._ Why, do you think I mean to keep the crown, Polyxena?

    _Pol._    You then believe the story
    In spite of all--that Victor comes?

    _Cha._                              Believe it?
    I know that he is coming--feel the strength
    That has upheld me leave me at his coming!
    'T was mine, and now he takes his own again.
    Some kinds of strength are well enough to have;
    But who 's to have that strength? Let my crown go!
    I meant to keep it; but I cannot--cannot!
    Only, he shall not taunt me--he, the first ...
    See if he would not be the first to taunt me
    With having left his kingdom at a word,
    With letting it be conquered without stroke,
    With ... no--no--'t is no worse than when he left!
    I 've just to bid him take it, and, that over,
    We 'll fly away--fly, for I loathe this Turin,
    This Rivoli, all titles loathe, all state.
    We 'd best go to your country--unless God
    Send I die now!

    _Pol._          Charles, hear me!

    _Cha._                            And again
    Shall you be my Polyxena--you 'll take me
    Out of this woe! Yes, do speak, and keep speaking!
    I would not let you speak just now, for fear
    You 'd counsel me against him: but talk, now,
    As we two used to talk in blessed times:
    Bid me endure all his caprices; take me
    From this mad post above him!

    _Pol._                        I believe
    We are undone, but from a different cause.
    All your resources, down to the least guard,
    Are at D'Ormea's beck. What if, the while,
    He act in concert with your father? We
    Indeed were lost. This lonely Rivoli--
    Where find a better place for them?

    _Cha._ [_Pacing the room._]         And why
    Does Victor come? To undo all that 's done,
    Restore the past, prevent the future! Seat
    His mistress in your seat, and place in mine
    ... Oh, my own people, whom will you find there,
    To ask of, to consult with, to care for,
    To hold up with your hands? Whom? One that's false--
    False--from the head's crown to the foot's sole, false!
    The best is, that I knew it in my heart
    From the beginning, and expected this,
    And hated you, Polyxena, because
    You saw through him, though I too saw through him,
    Saw that he meant this while he crowned me, while
    He prayed for me,--nay, while he kissed my brow,
    I saw--

    _Pol._ But if your measures take effect,
    D'Ormea true to you?

    _Cha._               Then worst of all!
    I shall have loosed that callous wretch on him!
    Well may the woman taunt him with his child--
    I, eating here his bread, clothed in his clothes,
    Seated upon his seat, let slip D'Ormea
    To outrage him! We talk--perchance he tears
    My father from his bed; the old hands feel
    For one who is not, but who should be there:
    He finds D'Ormea! D'Ormea too finds him!
    The crowded chamber when the lights go out--
    Closed doors--the horrid scuffle in the dark--
    The accursed prompting of the minute! My guards!
    To horse--and after, with me--and prevent!

    _Pol._ [_Seizing his hand._] King Charles! Pause here upon this
       strip of time
    Allotted you out of eternity!
    Crowns are from God: you in his name hold yours.
    Your life 's no least thing, were it fit your life
    Should be abjured along with rule; but now,
    Keep both! Your duty is to live and rule--
    You, who would vulgarly look fine enough
    In the world's eye, deserting your soul's charge,--
    Ay, you would have men's praise, this Rivoli
    Would be illumined! While, as 't is, no doubt,
    Something of stain will ever rest on you;
    No one will rightly know why you refused
    To abdicate; they 'll talk of deeds you could
    Have done, no doubt,--nor do I much expect
    Future achievement will blot out the past,
    Envelope it in haze--nor shall we two
    Live happy any more. 'T will be, I feel,
    Only in moments that the duty 's seen
    As palpably as now: the months, the years
    Of painful indistinctness are to come,
    While daily must we tread these palace-rooms
    Pregnant with memories of the past: your eye
    May turn to mine and find no comfort there,
    Through fancies that beset me, as yourself,
    Of other courses, with far other issues,
    We might have taken this great night: such bear,
    As I will bear! What matters happiness?
    Duty! There's man's one moment: this is yours!

[_Putting the crown on his head, and the sceptre in his hand, she
places him on his seat: a long pause and silence._

(_Enter_ D'ORMEA _and_ VICTOR, _with_ Guards.)

    _Vic._ At last I speak; but once--that once, to you!
    'T is you I ask, not these your varletry,
    Who 's King of us?

    _Cha. [_From his seat._] Count Tende ...

    _Vic._                                   What your spies
    Assert I ponder in my soul, I say--
    Here to your face, amid your guards! I choose
    To take again the crown whose shadow I gave--
    For still its potency surrounds the weak
    White locks their felon hands have discomposed.
    Or I 'll not ask who 's King, but simply, who
    Withholds the crown I claim? Deliver it!
    I have no friend in the wide world: nor France
    Nor England cares for me: you see the sum
    Of what I can avail. Deliver it!

    _Cha._ Take it, my father!
                                    And now say in turn,
    Was it done well, my father--sure not well,
    To try me thus! I might have seen much cause
    For keeping it--too easily seen cause!
    But, from that moment, e'en more woefully
    My life had pined away, than pine it will.
    Already you have much to answer for.
    My life to pine is nothing,--her sunk eyes
    Were happy once! No doubt, my people think
    I am their King still ... but I cannot strive!
    Take it!

    _Vic._ [_One hand on the crown_ CHARLES _offers,
    the other on his neck._] So few years give it quietly,
    My son! It will drop from me. See you not?
    A crown 's unlike a sword to give away--
    That, let a strong hand to a weak hand give!
    But crowns should slip from palsied brows to heads
    Young as this head: yet mine is weak enough,
    E'en weaker than I knew. I seek for phrases
    To vindicate my right. 'T is of a piece!
    All is alike gone by with me--who beat
    Once D'Orleans in his lines--his very lines!
    To have been Eugene's comrade, Louis's rival,
    And now ...

    _Cha._ [_Putting the crown on him, to the rest._]
                The King speaks, yet none kneels, I think!

    _Vic._ I am then King! As I became a King
    Despite the nations, kept myself a King,
    So I die King, with Kingship dying too
    Around me! I have lasted Europe's time!
    What wants my story of completion? Where
    Must needs the damning break show? Who mistrusts
    My children here--tell they of any break
    'Twixt my day's sunrise and its fiery fall?
    And who were by me when I died but they?
    D'Ormea there!

    _Cha._         What means he?

    _Vic._                        Ever there!
    Charles--how to save your story! Mine must go!
    Say--say that you refused the crown to me!
    Charles, yours shall be my story! You immured
    Me, say, at Rivoli. A single year
    I spend without a sight of you, then die.
    That will serve every purpose--tell that tale
    The world!

    _Cha._     Mistrust me? Help!

    _Vic._                        Past help, past reach!
    'T is in the heart--you cannot reach the heart:
    This broke mine, that I did believe, you, Charles,
    Would have denied me and disgraced me.

    _Pol._                                 Charles
    Has never ceased to be your subject, sir!
    He reigned at first through setting up yourself
    As pattern: if he e'er seemed harsh to you,
    'T was from a too intense appreciation
    Of your own character: he acted you--
    Ne'er for an instant did I think it real,
    Nor look for any other than this end.
    I hold him worlds the worse on that account;
    But so it was.

    _Cha._ [_To_ POL.] I love you now indeed!
    [_To_ VIC.] You never knew me!

    _Vic._                        Hardly till this moment,
    When I seem learning many other things
    Because the time for using them is past.
    If 't were to do again! That's idly wished.
    Truthfulness might prove policy as good
    As guile. Is this my daughter's forehead? Yes:
    I 've made it fitter now to be a queen's
    Than formerly: I 've ploughed the deep lines there
    Which keep too well a crown from slipping off.
    No matter. Guile has made me King again.
    _Louis--'t was in King Victor's time:--long since,
    When Louis reigned and, also, Victor reigned._
    How the world talks already of us two!
    God of eclipse and each discolored star,
    Why do I linger then?
                          Ha! Where lurks he?
    D'Ormea! Nearer to your King! Now stand!

[_Collecting his strength as_ D'ORMEA _approaches_.

    You lied, D'Ormea! I do not repent.                  [_Dies._


The third number of _Bells and Pomegranates_, published in 1842,
contained a collection of short poems under the general head of
_Dramatic Lyrics_. When Browning made his first collective edition, he
redistributed all his groups of poems, retaining this title and making
it cover some of the poems included in the original group, but many
more first published under other headings. The arrangement here given
is that adopted finally by Browning. "Such Poems," he says, "as the
majority in this volume (_Dramatic Lyrics_) might also come properly
enough, I suppose, under the head of _Dramatic Pieces;_ being, though
often Lyric in expression, always Dramatic in principle, and so many
utterances of so many imaginary persons, not mine. Part of the Poems
were inscribed to my dear friend, John Kenyon; I hope the whole may
obtain the honor of an association with his memory."

The third of the _Cavalier Tunes_ was originally entitled _My Wife
Gertrude_. The three songs have been set to music by Dr. Villiers



    Kentish Sir Byng stood for his King,
    Bidding the crop-headed Parliament swing:
    And, pressing a troop unable to stoop
    And see the rogues flourish and honest folk droop,
    Marched them along, fifty-score strong,
    Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song.

    God for King Charles! Pym and such carles
    To the Devil that prompts 'em their treasonous parles!
    Cavaliers, up! Lips from the cup,
    Hands from the pasty, nor bite take nor sup
    Till you're--
      CHORUS.--Marching along, fifty-score strong,
             Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song.

    Hampden to hell, and his obsequies' knell.
    Serve Hazelrig, Fiennes, and young Harry as well!
    England, good cheer! Rupert is near!
    Kentish and loyalists, keep we not here,
      CHO.--Marching along, fifty-score strong,
          Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song?

    Then, God for King Charles! Pym and his snarls
    To the Devil that pricks on such pestilent carles!
    Hold by the right, you double your might;
    So, onward to Nottingham, fresh for the fight,
      CHO.--March we along, fifty-score strong,
          Great-hearted gentlemen, singing this song!


    King Charles, and who 'll do him right now?
    King Charles, and who 's ripe for fight now?
    Give a rouse: here 's, in hell's despite now,
    King Charles!

    Who gave me the goods that went since?
    Who raised me the house that sank once?
    Who helped me to gold I spent since?
    Who found me in wine you drank once?
      CHO.--King Charles, and who 'll do him right now?
          King Charles, and who 's ripe for fight now?
          Give a rouse: here' s, in hell's despite now,
          King Charles!

    To whom used my boy George quaff else,
    By the old fool's side that begot him?
    For whom did he cheer and laugh else,
    While Noll's damned troopers shot him?
      CHO.--King Charles, and who 'll do him right now?
          King Charles, and who 's ripe for fight now?
          Give a rouse: here 's, in hell's despite now,
          King Charles!


    Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!
    Rescue my castle before the hot day
    Brightens to blue from its silvery gray.
      CHO.--Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!

    Ride past the suburbs, asleep as you 'd say;
    Many 's the friend there, will listen and pray
    "God's luck to gallants that strike up the lay--
      CHO.--Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

    Forty miles off, like a roebuck at bay,
    Flouts Castle Brancepeth the Roundheads' array:
    Who laughs, "Good fellows ere this, by my fay,
      CHO.--Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"

    Who? My wife Gertrude; that, honest and gay,
    Laughs when you talk of surrendering, "Nay!
    I 've better counsellors; what counsel they?
      CHO.--Boot, saddle, to horse, and away!"


Browning was beset with questions by people asking if he referred to
Wordsworth in this poem. He answered the question more than once, as an
artist would: the following letter to Rev. A. B. Grosart, the editor of
Wordsworth's _Prose Works_, sufficiently states his position.

    "19 Warwick-Crescent, W., _Feb. 24, '75_.

"DEAR MR. GROSART,--I have been asked the question you now address me
with, and as duly answered it, I can't remember how many times; there
is no sort of objection to one more assurance or rather confession, on
my part, that I _did_ in my hasty youth presume to use the great and
venerated personality of Wordsworth as a sort of painter's model; one
from which this or the other particular feature may be selected and
turned to account; had I intended more, above all, such a boldness as
portraying the entire man, I should not have talked about 'handfuls
of silver and bits of ribbon.' These never influenced the change of
politics in the great poet, whose defection, nevertheless, accompanied
as it was by a regular face-about of his special party, was to my
juvenile apprehension, and even mature consideration, an event to
deplore. But just as in the tapestry on my wall I can recognize figures
which have _struck out_ a fancy, on occasion, that though truly enough
thus derived, yet would be preposterous as a copy, so, though I dare
not deny the original of my little poem, I altogether refuse to have
it considered as the 'very effigies' of such a moral and intellectual

    "Faithfully yours,

    Just for a handful of silver he left us,
      Just for a riband to stick in his coat--
    Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us,
      Lost all the others she lets us devote;
    They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver,
      So much was theirs who so little allowed:
    How all our copper had gone for his service!
      Rags--were they purple, his heart had been proud!
    We that had loved him so, followed him, honored him,
      Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,
    Learned his great language, caught his clear accents,
      Made him our pattern to live and to die!
    Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us,
      Burns, Shelley, were with us,--they watch from their graves!
    He alone breaks from the van and the freemen,
      --He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!
    We shall march prospering,--not through his presence;
      Songs may inspirit us,--not from his lyre;
    Deeds will be done,--while he boasts his quiescence,
      Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire:
    Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,
      One task more declined, one more footpath untrod,
    One more devils'-triumph and sorrow for angels,
      One wrong more to man, one more insult to God!
    Life's night begins: let him never come back to us!
      There would be doubt, hesitation and pain,
    Forced praise on our part--the glimmer of twilight,
      Never glad confident morning again!
    Best fight on well, for we taught him--strike gallantly,
      Menace our heart ere we master his own;
    Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us,
      Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne!


Browning wrote to an American inquirer about this poem: "There is
no sort of historical foundation for the poem about 'Good News from
Ghent.' I wrote it under the bulwark of a vessel, off the African
coast, after I had been at sea long enough to appreciate even the fancy
of a gallop on the back of a certain good horse 'York,' then in my
stable at home. It was written in pencil on the fly-leaf of Bartoli's
_Simboli_, I remember."


    I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;
    I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;
    "Good speed!" cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;
    "Speed!" echoed the wall to us galloping through;
    Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,
    And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

    Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
    Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;
    I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
    Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,
    Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
    Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.
    'T was moonset at starting; but while we drew near
    Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear;
    At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see;
    At Düffeld, 't was morning as plain as could be;
    And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime,
    So Joris broke silence with, "Yet there is time!"

    At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
    And against him the cattle stood black every one,
    To stare through the mist at us galloping past,
    And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
    With resolute shoulders, each butting away
    The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray:

    And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
    For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
    And one eye's black intelligence,--ever that glance
    O'er its white edge at me, his own master, askance!
    And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon
    His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.

    By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, "Stay spur!
    Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault 's not in her,
    We'll remember at Aix"--for one heard the quick wheeze
    Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees,
    And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
    As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

    So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,
    Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;
    The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
    'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;
    Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,
    And "Gallop," gasped Joris, "for Aix is in sight!"

    "How they'll greet us!"--and all in a moment his roan
    Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
    And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
    Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
    With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
    And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim.

    Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall,
    Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,
    Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
    Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer;
    Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good,
    Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood.

    And all I remember is--friends flocking round
    As I sat with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground;
    And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
    As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,
    Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)
    Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent.


    As I ride, as I ride,
    With a full heart for my guide,
    So its tide rocks my side,
    As I ride, as I ride,
    That, as I were double-eyed,
    He, in whom our Tribes confide,
    Is descried, ways untried,
    As I ride, as I ride.

    As I ride, as I ride
    To our Chief and his Allied,
    Who dares chide my heart's pride
    As I ride, as I ride?
    Or are witnesses denied--
    Through the desert waste and wide
    Do I glide unespied
    As I ride, as I ride?

    As I ride, as I ride,
    When an inner voice has cried,
    The sands slide, nor abide
    (As I ride, as I ride)
    O'er each visioned homicide
    That came vaunting (has he lied?)
    To reside--where he died,
    As I ride, as I ride.

    As I ride, as I ride,
    Ne'er has spur my swift horse plied,
    Yet his hide, streaked and pied,
    As I ride, as I ride,
    Shows where sweat has sprung and dried,
    --Zebra-footed, ostrich-thighed--
    How has vied stride with stride
    As I ride, as I ride!

    As I ride, as I ride,
    Could I loose what Fate has tied,
    Ere I pried, she should hide
    (As I ride, as I ride)
    All that 's meant me--satisfied
    When the Prophet and the Bride
    Stop veins I 'd have subside
    As I ride, as I ride!


The first two of this group, under the titles _Claret_ and _Tokay_,
were published in _Hood's Magazine_, June, 1844, at the request of
Richard Monckton Milnes, who was editing the magazine during Hood's
illness. The third, first entitled _Beer_, was called out by the
description of Nelson's coat at Greenwich, given by the captain of the
vessel in which Browning was sailing to Italy.


    My heart sank with our Claret-flask,
      Just now, beneath the heavy sedges
    That serve this pond's black face for mask;
      And still at yonder broken edges
    O' the hole, where up the bubbles glisten,
    After my heart I look and listen.

    Our laughing little flask, compelled
      Through depth to depth more bleak and shady;
    As when, both arms beside her held,
      Feet straightened out, some gay French lady
    Is caught up from life's light and motion,
    And dropped into death's silent ocean!


    --Up jumped Tokay on our table,
    Like a pygmy castle-warder,
    Dwarfish to see, but stout and able,
    Arms and accoutrements all in order;
    And fierce he looked North, then, wheeling South,
    Blew with his bugle a challenge to Drouth,
    Cocked his flap-hat with the tosspot-feather,
    Twisted his thumb in his red moustache,
    Jingled his huge brass spurs together,
    Tightened his waist with its Buda sash,
    And then, with an impudence naught could abash,
    Shrugged his hump-shoulder, to tell the beholder,
    For twenty such knaves he should laugh but the bolder:
    And so, with his sword-hilt gallantly jutting,
    And dexter-hand on his haunch abutting,
    Went the little man, Sir Ausbruch, strutting!


    --Here's to Nelson's memory!
    'T is the second time that I, at sea,
    Right off Cape Trafalgar here,
    Have drunk it deep in British Beer.
    Nelson forever--any time
    Am I his to command in prose or rhyme!
    Give me of Nelson only a touch,
    And I save it, be it little or much:
    Here 's one our Captain gives, and so
    Down at the word, by George, shall it go!
    He says that at Greenwich they point the beholder
    To Nelson's coat, "still with tar on the shoulder:
    For he used to lean with one shoulder digging,
    Jigging, as it were, and zig-zag-zigging
    Up against the mizzen-rigging!"


These two poems also appeared in _Hood's Magazine_, July, 1844.


    Here's the garden she walked across,
      Arm in my arm, such a short while since:
    Hark, now I push its wicket, the moss
      Hinders the hinges and makes them wince!
    She must have reached this shrub ere she turned,
      As back with that murmur the wicket swung;
    For she laid the poor snail, my chance foot spurned,
      To feed and forget it the leaves among.

    Down this side of the gravel-walk
      She went while her robe's edge brushed the box:
    And here she paused in her gracious talk
      To point me a moth on the milk-white phlox.
    Roses, ranged in valiant row,
      I will never think that she passed you by!
    She loves you, noble roses, I know;
      But yonder, see, where the rock-plants lie!

    This flower she stopped at, finger on lip,
      Stooped over, in doubt, as settling its claim;
    Till she gave me, with pride to make no slip,
      Its soft meandering Spanish name:
    What a name! Was it love or praise?
      Speech half-asleep or song half-awake?
    I must learn Spanish, one of these days,
      Only for that slow sweet name's sake.

    Roses, if I live and do well,
      I may bring her, one of these days,
    To fix you fast with as fine a spell,
      Fit you each with his Spanish phrase;
    But do not detain me now; for she lingers
      There, like sunshine over the ground,
    And ever I see her soft white fingers
      Searching after the bud she found.

    Flower, you Spaniard, look that you grow not,
      Stay as you are and be loved forever!
    Bud, if I kiss you 't is that you blow not,
      Mind, the shut pink mouth opens never!
    For while it pouts, her fingers wrestle,
      Twinkling the audacious leaves between,
    Till round they turn and down they nestle--
      Is not the dear mark still to be seen?

    Where I find her not, beauties vanish;
      Whither I follow her, beauties flee;
    Is there no method to tell her in Spanish
      June 's twice June since she breathed it with me?
    Come, bud, show me the least of her traces,
      Treasure my lady's lightest footfall!
    --Ah, you may flout and turn up your faces--
      Roses, you are not so fair after all!


    Plague take all your pedants, say I!
      He who wrote what I hold in my hand,
    Centuries back was so good as to die,
      Leaving this rubbish to cumber the land;
    This, that was a book in its time,
      Printed on paper and bound in leather,
    Last month in the white of a matin-prime,
      Just when the birds sang all together.

    Into the garden I brought it to read,
      And under the arbute and laurustine
    Read it, so help me grace in my need,
      From title-page to closing line.
    Chapter on chapter did I count,
      As a curious traveller counts Stonehenge;
    Added up the mortal amount;
      And then proceeded to my revenge.

    Yonder 's a plum-tree with a crevice
      An owl would build in, were he but sage;
    For a lap of moss, like a fine pont-levis
      In a castle of the Middle Age,
    Joins to a lip of gum, pure amber;
      When he'd be private, there might he spend
    Hours alone in his lady's chamber:
      Into this crevice I dropped our friend.

    Splash, went he, as under he ducked,
      --At the bottom, I knew, rain-drippings stagnate;
    Next, a handful of blossoms I plucked
      To bury him with, my bookshelf's magnate;
    Then I went in-doors, brought out a loaf,
      Half a cheese, and a bottle of Chablis;
    Lay on the grass and forgot the oaf
      Over a jolly chapter of Rabelais.

    Now, this morning, betwixt the moss
      And gum that locked our friend in limbo,
    A spider had spun his web across,
      And sat in the midst with arms akimbo:
    So, I took pity, for learning's sake,
      And, _de profundis, accentibus lœtis,
    Cantate!_ quoth I, as I got a rake;
      And up I fished his delectable treatise.

    Here you have it, dry in the sun,
      With all the binding all of a blister,
    And great blue spots where the ink has run,
      And reddish streaks that wink and glister
    O'er the page so beautifully yellow:
      Oh, well have the droppings played their tricks!
    Did he guess how toadstools grow, this fellow?
      Here's one stuck in his chapter six!

    How did he like it when the live creatures
      Tickled and toused and browsed him all over,
    And worm, slug, eft, with serious features,
      Came in, each one, for his right of trover?
    --When the water-beetle with great blind deaf face
      Made of her eggs the stately deposit,
    And the newt borrowed just so much of the preface
      As tiled in the top of his black wife's closet?

    All that life and fun and romping,
      All that frisking and twisting and coupling,
    While slowly our poor friend's leaves were swamping
      And clasps were cracking and covers suppling!
    As if you had carried sour John Knox
      To the play-house at Paris, Vienna or Munich,
    Fastened him into a front-row box,
      And danced off the ballet with trousers and tunic.

    Come, old martyr! What, torment enough is it?
      Back to my room shall you take your sweet self.
    Good-bye, mother-beetle; husband-eft, _sufficit!_
      See the snug niche I have made on my shelf!
    A's book shall prop you up, B's shall cover you,
      Here's C to be grave with, or D to be gay,
    And with E on each side, and F right over you,
      Dry-rot at ease till the Judgment-day!


When first printed in _Bells and Pomegranates_, this poem was the
second of a group of two bearing the general title _Camp and Cloister_,
the first of the two being _Incident of the French Camp_.

    GR-R-R--there go, my heart's abhorrence!
      Water your damned flower-pots, do!
    If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,
      God's blood, would not mine kill you!
    What? your myrtle-bush wants trimming?
      Oh, that rose has prior claims--
    Needs its leaden vase filled brimming?
      Hell dry you up with its flames!

    At the meal we sit together:
      _Salve tibi!_ I must hear
    Wise talk of the kind of weather,
      Sort of season, time of year:
    _Not a plenteous cork-crop: scarcely
      Dare we hope oak-galls, I doubt:
    What's the Latin name for "parsley"?_
      What's the Greek name for Swine's Snout?

    Whew! We'll have our platter burnished,
      Laid with care on our own shelf!
    With a fire-new spoon we're furnished,
      And a goblet for ourself,
    Rinsed like something sacrificial
      Ere 'tis fit to touch our chaps--
    Marked with L for our initial!
      (He-he! There his lily snaps!)

    _Saint_, forsooth! While brown Dolores
      Squats outside the Convent bank
    With Sanchicha, telling stories,
      Steeping tresses in the tank,
    Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs,
      --Can't I see his dead eye glow,
    Bright as 't were a Barbary corsair's?
      (That is, if he 'd let it show!)

    When he finishes refection,
      Knife and fork he never lays
    Cross-wise, to my recollection,
      As do I, in Jesu's praise.
    I the Trinity illustrate,
      Drinking watered orange-pulp--
    In three sips the Arian frustrate;
      While he drains his at one gulp.

    Oh, those melons! If he's able
      We 're to have a feast! so nice!
    One goes to the Abbot's table,
      All of us get each a slice.
    How go on your flowers? None double?
      Not one fruit-sort can you spy?
    Strange!--And I, too, at such trouble
      Keep them close-nipped on the sly!

    There's a great text in Galatians,
      Once you trip on it, entails
    Twenty-nine distinct damnations,
      One sure, if another fails:
    If I trip him just a-dying,
      Sure of heaven as sure can be,
    Spin him round and send him flying
      Off to hell, a Manichee?

    Or, my scrofulous French novel
      On gray paper with blunt type!
    Simply glance at it, you grovel
      Hand and foot in Belial's gripe:
    If I double down its pages
      At the woeful sixteenth print,
    When he gathers his greengages,
      Ope a sieve and slip it in 't?

    Or, there's Satan!--one might venture
      Pledge one's soul to him, yet leave
    Such a flaw in the indenture
      As he'd miss till, past retrieve,
    Blasted lay that rose-acacia
      We're so proud of! _Hy, Zy, Hine_ ...
    'St, there's Vespers! _Plena gratiâ,
      Ave, Virgo!_ Gr-r-r--you swine!



Published first in _Hood's Magazine_, June, 1844. In _Bells and
Pomegranates_ it was grouped with _The Confessional_ under the title
_France and Spain_.

    Now that I, tying thy glass mask tightly,
    May gaze through these faint smokes curling whitely,
    As thou pliest thy trade in this devil's-smithy--
    Which is the poison to poison her, prithee?

    He is with her, and they know that I know
    Where they are, what they do: they believe my tears flow
    While they laugh, laugh at me, at me fled to the drear
    Empty church, to pray God in, for them!--I am here.

    Grind away, moisten and mash up thy paste,
    Pound at thy powder,--I am not in haste!
    Better sit thus, and observe thy strange things,
    Than go where men wait me and dance at the King's.

    That in the mortar--you call it a gum?
    Ah, the brave tree whence such gold oozings come!
    And yonder soft phial, the exquisite blue,
    Sure to taste sweetly,--is that poison too?

    Had I but all of them, thee and thy treasures,
    What a wild crowd of invisible pleasures!
    To carry pure death in an earring, a casket,
    A signet, a fan-mount, a filigree basket!

    Soon, at the King's, a mere lozenge to give,
    And Pauline should have just thirty minutes to live!
    But to light a pastile, and Elise, with her head
    And her breast and her arms and her hands, should drop dead!

    Quick--is it finished? The color's too grim!
    Why not soft like the phial's, enticing and dim?
    Let it brighten her drink, let her turn it and stir,
    And try it and taste, ere she fix and prefer!

    What a drop! She's not little, no minion like me!
    That's why she ensnared him: this never will free
    The soul from those masculine eyes,--say, "no!"
    To that pulse's magnificent come-and-go.

    For only last night, as they whispered, I brought
    My own eyes to bear on her so, that I thought
    Could I keep them one half minute fixed, she would fall
    Shrivelled; she fell not; yet this does it all!

    Not that I bid you spare her the pain;
    Let death be felt and the proof remain:
    Brand, burn up, bite into its grace--
    He is sure to remember her dying face!

    Is it done? Take my mask off! Nay, be not morose;
    It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close:
    The delicate droplet, my whole fortune's fee!
    If it hurts her, beside, can it ever hurt me?

    Now, take all my jewels, gorge gold to your fill,
    You may kiss me, old man, on my mouth if you will!
    But brush this dust off me, lest horror it brings
    Ere I know it--next moment I dance at the King's!



    It is a lie--their Priests, their Pope,
    Their Saints, their ... all they fear or hope
    Are lies, and lies--there! through my door
    And ceiling, there! and walls and floor,
    There, lies, they lie--shall still be hurled
    Till spite of them I reach the world!

    You think Priests just and holy men!
    Before they put me in this den
    I was a human creature too,
    With flesh and blood like one of you,
    A girl that laughed in beauty's pride
    Like lilies in your world outside.

    I had a lover--shame avaunt!
    This poor wrenched body, grim and gaunt,
    Was kissed all over till it burned,
    By lips the truest, love e'er turned
    His heart's own tint: one night they kissed
    My soul out in a burning mist.

    So, next day when the accustomed train
    Of things grew round my sense again,
    "That is a sin," I said: and slow
    With downcast eyes to church I go,
    And pass to the confession-chair,
    And tell the old mild father there.

    But when I falter Beltran's name,
    "Ha!" quoth the father; "much I blame
    The sin; yet wherefore idly grieve?
    Despair not--strenuously retrieve!
    Nay, I will turn this love of thine
    To lawful love, almost divine;

    "For he is young, and led astray,
    This Beltran, and he schemes, men say,
    To change the laws of church and state;
    So, thine shall be an angel's fate,
    Who, ere the thunder breaks, should roll
    Its cloud away and save his soul.

    "For, when he lies upon thy breast,
    Thou mayest demand and be possessed
    Of all his plans, and next day steal
    To me, and all those plans reveal,
    That I and every priest, to purge
    His soul, may fast and use the scourge."

    That father's beard was long and white,
    With love and truth his brow seemed bright;
    I went back, all on fire with joy,
    And, that same evening, bade the boy
    Tell me, as lovers should, heart-free,
    Something to prove his love of me.

    He told me what he would not tell
    For hope of heaven or fear of hell;
    And I lay listening in such pride!
    And, soon as he had left my side,
    Tripped to the church by morning-light
    To save his soul in his despite.

    I told the father all his schemes,
    Who were his comrades, what their dreams;
    "And now make haste," I said, "to pray
    The one spot from his soul away;
    To-night he comes, but not the same
    Will look!" At night he never came.

    Nor next night: on the after-morn,
    I went forth with a strength new-born.
    The church was empty; something drew
    My steps into the street; I knew
    It led me to the market-place:
    Where, lo, on high, the father's face!

    That horrible black scaffold dressed,
    That stapled block ... God sink the rest!
    That head strapped back, that blinding vest,
    Those knotted hands and naked breast,
    Till near one busy hangman pressed,
    And, on the neck these arms caressed ...

    No part in aught they hope or fear!
    No heaven with them, no hell!--and here,
    No earth, not so much space as pens
    My body in their worst of dens
    But shall bear God and man my cry.
    Lies--lies, again--and still, they lie!


In _Bells and Pomegranates_, this poem was the second of a group headed
_Queen-Worship,_ the first being _Rudel and the Lady of Tripoli_.

    She should never have looked at me
      If she meant I should not love her!
    There are plenty ... men, you call such,
      I suppose ... she may discover
    All her soul to, if she pleases,
      And yet leave much as she found them:
    But I'm not so, and she knew it
      When she fixed me, glancing round them.

    What? To fix me thus meant nothing?
      But I can't tell (there's my weakness)
    What her look said!--no vile cant, sure,
      About "need to strew the bleakness
    Of some lone shore with its pearl-seed,
      That the sea feels"--no "strange yearning
    That such souls have, most to lavish
      Where there's chance of least returning."

    Oh, we're sunk enough here, God knows!
      But not quite so sunk that moments,
    Sure though seldom, are denied us,
      When the spirit's true endowments
    Stand out plainly from its false ones,
      And apprise it if pursuing
    Or the right way or the wrong way,
      To its triumph or undoing.

    There are flashes struck from midnights,
      There are fire-flames noondays kindle,
    Whereby piled-up honors perish,
      Whereby swollen ambitions dwindle,
    While just this or that poor impulse,
      Which for once had play unstifled,
    Seems the sole work of a lifetime,
      That away the rest have trifled.

    Doubt you if, in some such moment,
      As she fixed me, she felt clearly,
    Ages past the soul existed,
      Here an age 't is resting merely,
    And hence fleets again for ages,
      While the true end, sole and single,
    It stops here for is, this love-way,
      With some other soul to mingle?

    Else it loses what it lived for,
      And eternally must lose it;
    Better ends may be in prospect,
      Deeper blisses (if you choose it),
    But this life's end and this love-bliss
      Have been lost here. Doubt you whether
    This she felt as, looking at me,
      Mine and her souls rushed together?

    Oh, observe! Of course, next moment,
      The world's honors, in derision,
    Trampled out the light forever:
      Never fear but there's provision
    Of the devil's to quench knowledge
      Lest we walk the earth in rapture!
    --Making those who catch God's secret
      Just so much more prize their capture!

    Such am I: the secret 's mine now!
      She has lost me, I have gained her;
    Her soul's mine: and thus, grown perfect,
      I shall pass my life's remainder.
    Life will just hold out the proving
      Both our powers, alone and blended:
    And then, come the next life quickly!
      This world's use will have been ended.


    All 's over, then: does truth sound bitter
      As one at first believes?
    Hark, 'tis the sparrows' good-night twitter
      About your cottage eaves!

    And the leaf-buds on the vine are woolly,
      I noticed that, to-day;
    One day more bursts them open fully
      --You know the red turns gray.

    To-morrow we meet the same then, dearest?
      May I take your hand in mine?
    Mere friends are we,--well, friends the merest
      Keep much that I resign:

    For each glance of the eye so bright and black
      Though I keep with heart's endeavor,--
    Your voice, when you wish the snowdrops back,
      Though it stay in my soul forever!--

    Yet I will but say what mere friends say,
      Or only a thought stronger;
    I will hold your hand but as long as all may,
      Or so very little longer!



    See, as the prettiest graves will do in time,
    Our poet's wants the freshness of its prime;
    Spite of the sexton's browsing horse, the sods
    Have struggled through its binding osier rods;
    Headstone and half-sunk footstone lean awry,
    Wanting the brick-work promised by-and-by;
    How the minute gray lichens, plate o'er plate,
    Have softened down the crisp-cut name and date!


    So, the year's done with!
      (_Love me forever!_)
    All March begun with,
      April's endeavor;
    May-wreaths that bound me
      June needs must sever;
    Now snows fall round me,
      Quenching June's fever--
    (_Love me forever!_)


This and its companion piece were published originally simply as _Night
and Morning_.

    The gray sea and the long black land;
    And the yellow half-moon large and low;
    And the startled little waves that leap
    In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
    As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
    And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.

    Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
    Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
    A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
    And blue spurt of a lighted match,
    And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
    Than the two hearts beating each to each!


    Round the cape of a sudden came the sea,
    And the sun looked over the mountain's rim:
    And straight was a path of gold for him,
    And the heed of a world of men for me.


    Nay but you, who do not love her,
      Is she not pure gold, my mistress?
    Holds earth aught--speak truth--above her?
      Aught like this tress, see, and this tress,
    And this last fairest tress of all,
    So fair, see, ere I let it fall?

    Because you spend your lives in praising;
      To praise, you search the wide world over:
    Then why not witness, calmly gazing,
      If earth holds aught--speak truth--above her?
    Above this tress, and this, I touch
    But cannot praise, I love so much!


    Let's contend no more, Love,
      Strive nor weep:
    All be as before, Love,
      --Only sleep!

    What so wild as words are?
      I and thou
    In debate, as birds are,
      Hawk on bough!

    See the creature stalking
      While we speak!
    Hush and hide the talking,
      Cheek on cheek!

    What so false as truth is,
      False to thee?
    Where the serpent's tooth is
      Shun the tree--

    Where the apple reddens
      Never pry--
    Lest we lose our Edens,
      Eve and I.

    Be a god and hold me
      With a charm!
    Be a man and fold me
      With thine arm!

    Teach me, only teach, Love!
      As I ought
    I will speak thy speech, Love,
      Think thy thought--

    Meet, if thou require it,
      Both demands,
    Laying flesh and spirit
      In thy hands.

    That shall be to-morrow,
      Not to-night:
    I must bury sorrow
      Out of sight:

    --Must a little weep, Love,
      (Foolish me!)
    And so fall asleep, Love,
      Loved by thee.


    Beautiful Evelyn Hope is dead!
      Sit and watch by her side an hour.
    That is her book-shelf, this her bed;
      She plucked that piece of geranium-flower,
    Beginning to die too, in the glass;
      Little has yet been changed, I think:
    The shutters are shut, no light may pass
      Save two long rays through the hinge's chink.

    Sixteen years old when she died!
      Perhaps she had scarcely heard my name;
    It was not her time to love; beside,
      Her life had many a hope and aim,
    Duties enough and little cares,
      And now was quiet, now astir,
    Till God's hand beckoned unawares,--
      And the sweet white brow is all of her.

    Is it too late then, Evelyn Hope?
      What, your soul was pure and true,
    The good stars met in your horoscope,
    Made you of spirit, fire and dew--
      And, just because I was thrice as old
    And our paths in the world diverged so wide,
      Each was naught to each, must I be told?
    We were fellow mortals, naught beside?

    No, indeed! for God above
      Is great to grant, as mighty to make,
    And creates the love to reward the love:
      I claim you still, for my own love's sake!
    Delayed it may be for more lives yet,
    Through worlds I shall traverse, not a few:
      Much is to learn, much to forget
    Ere the time be come for taking you.

    But the time will come,--at last it will,
      When, Evelyn Hope, what meant (I shall say)
    In the lower earth, in the years long still,
      That body and soul so pure and gay?
    Why your hair was amber, I shall divine,
      And your mouth of your own geranium's red--
    And what you would do with me, in fine,
      In the new life come in the old one's stead.

    I have lived (I shall say) so much since then,
      Given up myself so many times,
    Gained me the gains of various men,
      Ransacked the ages, spoiled the climes;
    Yet one thing, one, in my soul's full scope,
      Either I missed or itself missed me:
    And I want and find you, Evelyn Hope!
      What is the issue? let us see!

    I loved you, Evelyn, all the while!
      My heart seemed full as it could hold;
    There was place and to spare for the frank young smile,
      And the red young mouth, and the hair's young gold.
    So, hush,--I will give you this leaf to keep:
      See, I shut it inside the sweet cold hand!
    There, that is our secret: go to sleep!
      You will wake, and remember, and understand.


    Where the quiet-colored end of evening smiles
            Miles and miles
    On the solitary pastures where our sheep
    Tinkle homeward through the twilight, stray or stop
            As they crop--
    Was the site once of a city great and gay,
            (So they say)
    Of our country's very capital, its prince
            Ages since
    Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far
            Peace or war.

    Now,--the country does not even boast a tree,
            As you see,
    To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rills
            From the hills
    Intersect and give a name to, (else they run
            Into one,)
    Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires
            Up like fires
    O'er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall
            Bounding all,
    Made of marble, men might march on nor be pressed,
            Twelve abreast.

    And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass
            Never was!
    Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o'erspreads
            And embeds
    Every vestige of the city, guessed alone,
            Stock or stone--
    Where a multitude of men breathed joy and woe
            Long ago;
    Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame
            Struck them tame;
    And that glory and that shame alike, the gold
            Bought and sold.

    Now,--the single little turret that remains
            On the plains,
    By the caper overrooted, by the gourd
    While the patching houseleek's head of blossom winks
            Through the chinks--
    Marks the basement whence a tower in ancient time
            Sprang sublime,
    And a burning ring, all round, the chariots traced
            As they raced,
    And the monarch and his minions and his dames
            Viewed the games.

    And I know, while thus the quiet-colored eve
            Smiles to leave
    To their folding, all our many-tinkling fleece
            In such peace,
    And the slopes and rills in undistinguished gray
            Melt away--
    That a girl with eager eyes and yellow hair
            Waits me there
    In the turret whence the charioteers caught soul
            For the goal,
    When the king looked, where she looks now, breathless, dumb
            Till I come.

    But he looked upon the city, every side,
            Far and wide,
    All the mountains topped with temples, all the glades'
    All the causeys, bridges, aqueducts,--and then,
            All the men!
    When I do come, she will speak not, she will stand,
            Either hand
    On my shoulder, give her eyes the first embrace
            Of my face,
    Ere we rush, ere we extinguish sight and speech
            Each on each.

    In one year they sent a million fighters forth
            South and North,
    And they built their gods a brazen pillar high
            As the sky,
    Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force--
            Gold, of course.
    Oh heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
            Earth's returns
    For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
            Shut them in,
    With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
            Love is best.


    Oh, what a dawn of day!
    How the March sun feels like May!
           All is blue again
           After last night's rain,
    And the South dries the hawthorn-spray.
           Only, my Love's away!
    I 'd as lief that the blue were gray.

    Runnels, which rillets swell,
    Must be dancing down the dell,
           With a foaming head
           On the beryl bed
    Paven smooth as a hermit's cell;
           Each with a tale to tell,
    Could my Love but attend as well.

    Dearest, three months ago!
    When we lived blocked-up with snow,--
           When the wind would edge
           In and in his wedge,
    In, as far as the point could go--
           Not to our ingle, though,
    Where we loved each the other so!

    Laughs with so little cause!
    We devised games out of straws,
           We would try and trace
           One another's face
    In the ash, as an artist draws;
           Free on each other's flaws,
    How we chattered like two church daws!

    What's in the "Times"?--a scold
    At the Emperor deep and cold;
           He has taken a bride
           To his gruesome side,
    That's as fair as himself is bold:
           There they sit ermine-stoled,
    And she powders her hair with gold.

    Fancy the Pampas' sheen!
    Miles and miles of gold and green
           Where the sunflowers blow
           In a solid glow,
    And--to break now and then the screen--
           Black neck and eyeballs keen,
    Up a wild horse leaps between!

    Try, will our table turn?
    Lay your hands there light, and yearn
           Till the yearning slips
           Through the finger-tips
    In a fire which a few discern,
           And a very few feel burn,
    And the rest, they may live and learn!

    Then we would up and pace,
    For a change, about the place,
           Each with arm o'er neck:
           'T is our quarter-deck,
    We are seamen in woeful case.
           Help in the ocean-space!
    Or, if no help, we'll embrace.

    See, how she looks now, dressed
    In a sledging-cap and vest!
           'T is a huge fur cloak--
           Like a reindeer's yoke
    Falls the lappet along the breast:
           Sleeves for her arms to rest,
    Or to hang, as my Love likes best.

    Teach me to flirt a fan
    As the Spanish ladies can,
           Or I tint your lip
           With a burnt stick's tip
    And you turn into such a man!
           Just the two spots that span
    Half the bill of the young male swan.

    Dearest, three months ago
    When the mesmerizer Snow
           With his hand's first sweep
           Put the earth to sleep:
    'T was a time when the heart could show
           All--how was earth to know,
    'Neath the mute hand's to-and-fro?

    Dearest, three months ago
    When we loved each other so,
           Lived and loved the same
           Till an evening came
    When a shaft from the devil's bow
           Pierced to our ingle-glow,
    And the friends were friend and foe!

    Not from the heart beneath--
    'T was a bubble born of breath,
           Neither sneer nor vaunt,
           Nor reproach nor taunt.
    See a word, how it severeth!
           Oh, power of life and death
    In the tongue, as the Preacher saith!

    Woman, and will you cast
    For a word, quite off at last
           Me, your own, your You,--
           Since, as truth is true,
    I was You all the happy past--
           Me do you leave aghast
    With the memories We amassed?

    Love, if you knew the light
    That your soul casts in my sight,
           How I look to you
           For the pure and true,
    And the beauteous and the right,--
           Bear with a moment's spite
    When a mere mote threats the white!

    What of a hasty word?
    Is the fleshly heart not stirred
           By a worm's pin-prick
           Where its roots are quick?
    See the eye, by a fly's-foot blurred--
           Ear, when a straw is heard
    Scratch the brain's coat of curd!

    Foul be the world or fair
    More or less, how can I care?
           'T is the world the same
           For my praise or blame,
    And endurance is easy there.
           Wrong in the one thing rare--
    Oh, it is hard to bear!

    Here's the spring back or close,
    When the almond-blossom blows;
           We shall have the word
           In a minor third,
    There is none but the cuckoo knows:
           Heaps of the guelder-rose!
    I must bear with it, I suppose.

    Could but November come,
    Were the noisy birds struck dumb
           At the warning slash
           Of his driver's-lash--
    I would laugh like the valiant Thumb
           Facing the castle glum
    And the giant's fee-faw-fum!

    Then, were the world well stripped
    Of the gear wherein equipped
           We can stand apart,
           Heart dispense with heart
    In the sun, with the flowers unnipped,--
           Oh, the world's hangings ripped,
    We were both in a bare-walled crypt!

    Each in the crypt would cry
    "But one freezes here! and why?
           When a heart, as chill,
           At my own would thrill
    Back to life, and its fires out-fly?
           Heart, shall we live or die?
    The rest, ... settle by and by!"

    So, she'd efface the score,
    And forgive me as before.
      It is twelve o'clock:
      I shall hear her knock
    In the worst of a storm's uproar,
      I shall pull her through the door,
    I shall have her for evermore!



    Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare,
    The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city-square;
    Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there!

    Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear, at least!
    There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect feast;
    While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no more than a beast.

    Well now, look at our villa! stuck like the horn of a bull
    Just on a mountain-edge as bare as the creature's skull,
    Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to pull!
    --I scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair's turned wool.

    But the city, oh the city--the square with the houses! Why?
    They are stone-faced, white as a curd, there's something to take the
    Houses in four straight lines, not a single front awry;
    You watch who crosses and gossips, who saunters, who hurries by;
    Green blinds, as a matter of course, to draw when the sun gets high;
    And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted properly.

    What of a villa? Though winter be over in March by rights,
    'Tis May perhaps ere the snow shall have withered well off the heights:
    You 've the brown ploughed land before, where the oxen steam and
    And the hills over-smoked behind by the faint gray olive-trees.

    Is it better in May, I ask you? You've summer all at once;
    In a day he leaps complete with a few strong April suns.
    'Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce risen three fingers well,
    The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out its great red bell
    Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick and sell.

    Is it ever hot in the square? There 's a fountain to spout and splash!
    In the shade it sings and springs; in the shine such foambows flash
    On the horses with curling fish-tails, that prance and paddle and pash
    Round the lady atop in her conch--fifty gazers do not abash,
    Though all that she wears is some weeds round her waist in a sort of

    All the year long at the villa, nothing to see though you linger,
    Exception yon cypress that points like death's lean lifted forefinger.
    Some think fireflies pretty, when they mix i' the corn and mingle,
    Or thrid the stinking hemp till the stalks of it seem a-tingle.
    Late August or early September, the stunning cicala is shrill,
    And the bees keep their tiresome whine round the resinous firs on the
    Enough of the seasons,--I spare you the months of the fever and chill.

    Ere you open your eyes in the city, the blessed church-bells begin:
    No sooner the bells leave off than the diligence rattles in:
    You get the pick of the news, and it costs you never a pin.
    By and by there 's the travelling doctor gives pills, lets blood,
       draws teeth;
    Or the Pulcinello-trumpet breaks up the market beneath.
    At the post-office such a scene-picture--the new play, piping hot!
    And a notice how, only this morning, three liberal thieves were shot.
    Above it, behold the Archbishop's most fatherly of rebukes,
    And beneath, with his crown and his lion, some little new law of the
    Or a sonnet with flowery marge, to the Reverend Don So-and-so,
    Who is Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Saint Jerome, and Cicero,
    "And moreover," (the sonnet goes rhyming,) "the skirts of Saint Paul
       has reached,
    Having preached us those six Lent-lectures more unctuous than ever he
    Noon strikes,--here sweeps the procession! our Lady borne smiling and
    With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck in her
    _Bang-whang-whang_ goes the drum, _tootle-te-tootle_ the fife;
    No keeping one's haunches still: it 's the greatest pleasure in life.

    But bless you, it 's dear--it 's dear! fowls, wine, at double the rate.
    They have clapped a new tax upon salt, and what oil pays passing the
    It's a horror to think of. And so, the villa for me, not the city!
    Beggars can scarcely be choosers: but still--ah, the pity, the pity!
    Look, two and two go the priests, then the monks with cowls and
    And the penitents dressed in white shirts, a-holding the yellow
    One, he carries a flag up straight, and another a cross with handles,
    And the Duke's guard brings up the rear, for the better prevention of
    _Bang-whang-whang_ goes the drum, _tootle-te-tootle_ the fife.
    Oh, a day in the city-square, there is no such pleasure in life!


Published in _Men and Women_ in 1855. An American author, visiting
Browning and his wife at Casa Guidi in 1847, wrote of their
occupations: "Mrs. Browning," he said, "was still too much of an
invalid to walk, but she sat under the great trees upon the lawn-like
hillsides near the convent, or in the seats of the dusky convent
chapel, while Robert Browning at the organ chased a fugue, or dreamed
out upon the twilight keys a faint throbbing _toccata_ of Galuppi."

    Oh Galuppi, Baldassare, this is very sad to find!
    I can hardly misconceive you; it would prove me deaf and blind;
    But although I take your meaning, 't is with such a heavy mind!

    Here you come with your old music, and here 's all the good it brings.
    What, they lived once thus at Venice where the merchants were the
    Where St. Mark's is, where the Doges used to wed the sea with rings?

    Ay, because the sea's the street there; and 't is arched by ... what
       you call
    ... Shylock's bridge with houses on it, where they kept the carnival:
    I was never out of England--it 's as if I saw it all.

    Did young people take their pleasure when the sea was warm in May?
    Balls and masks begun at midnight, burning ever to mid-day,
    When they made up fresh adventures for the morrow, do you say?

    Was a lady such a lady, cheeks so round and lips so red,--
    On her neck the small face buoyant, like a bell-flower on its bed,
    O'er the breast's superb abundance where a man might base his head?

    Well, and it was graceful of them--they 'd break talk off and afford
    --She, to bite her mask's black velvet--he, to finger on his sword,
    While you sat and played Toccatas, stately at the clavichord?

    What? Those lesser thirds so plaintive, sixths diminished, sigh on
    Told them something? Those suspensions, those solutions--"Must we
    Those commiserating sevenths--"Life might last! we can but try!"

    "Were you happy?"--"Yes."--"And are you still as happy?"--"Yes. And
    --"Then, more kisses!"--"Did _I_ stop them, when a million seemed so
    Hark, the dominant's persistence till it must be answered to!

    So, an octave struck the answer. Oh, they praised you, I dare say!
    "Brave Galuppi! that was music! good alike at grave and gay!
    I can always leave off talking when I hear a master play!"

    Then they left you for their pleasure: till in due time, one by one,
    Some with lives that came to nothing, some with deeds as well undone,
    Death stepped tacitly and took them where they never see the sun.

    But when I sit down to reason, think to take my stand nor swerve,
    While I triumph o'er a secret wrung from nature's close reserve,
    In you come with your cold music till I creep through every nerve.

    Yes, you, like a ghostly cricket, creaking where a house was burned:
    "Dust and ashes, dead and done with, Venice spent what Venice earned.
    The soul, doubtless, is immortal--where a soul can be discerned.

    "Yours for instance: you know physics, something of geology,
    Mathematics are your pastime; souls shall rise in their degree;
    Butterflies may dread extinction,--you 'll not die, it cannot be!

    "As for Venice and her people, merely born to bloom and drop,
    Here on earth they bore their fruitage, mirth and folly were the crop:
    What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?

    "Dust and ashes!" So you creak it, and I want the heart to scold.
    Dear dead women, with such hair, too--what's become of all the gold
    Used to hang and brush their bosoms? I feel chilly and grown old.


    The morn when first it thunders in March,
      The eel in the pond gives a leap, they say:
    As I leaned and looked over the aloed arch
      Of the villa-gate this warm March day,
    No flash snapped, no dumb thunder rolled
      In the valley beneath where, white and wide
    And washed by the morning water-gold,
      Florence lay out on the mountain-side.

    River and bridge and street and square
      Lay mine, as much at my beck and call,
    Through the live translucent bath of air,
      As the sights in a magic crystal ball.
    And of all I saw and of all I praised,
      The most to praise and the best to see,
    Was the startling bell-tower Giotto raised:
      But why did it more than startle me?

    Giotto, how, with that soul of yours,
      Could, you play me false who loved you so?
    Some slights if a certain heart endures
      Yet it feels, I would have your fellows know!
    I' faith, I perceive not why I should care
      To break a silence that suits them best,
    But the thing grows somewhat hard to bear
      When I find a Giotto join the rest.

    On the arch where olives overhead
      Print the blue sky with twig and leaf,
    (That sharp-curled leaf which they never shed)
      'Twixt the aloes, I used to lean in chief,
    And mark through the winter afternoons,
      By a gift God grants me now and then,
    In the mild decline of those suns like moons,
      Who walked in Florence, besides her men.

    They might chirp and chaffer, come and go
      For pleasure or profit, her men alive--
    My business was hardly with them, I trow,
      But with empty cells of the human hive;
    --With the chapter-room, the cloister-porch,
      The church's apsis, aisle or nave,
    Its crypt, one fingers along with a torch,
      Its face set full for the sun to shave.

    Wherever a fresco peels and drops,
      Wherever an outline weakens and wanes
    Till the latest life in the painting stops,
      Stands One whom each fainter pulse-tick pains:
    One, wishful each scrap should clutch the brick,
      Each tinge not wholly escape the plaster,
    --A lion who dies of an ass's kick.
      The wronged great soul of an ancient Master.

    For oh, this world and the wrong it does!
      They are safe in heaven with their backs to it,
    The Michaels and Rafaels, you hum and buzz
      Round the works of, you of the little wit!
    Do their eyes contract to the earth's old scope,
      Now that they see God face to face,
    And have all attained to be poets, I hope?
      'T is their holiday now, in any case.

    Much they reek of your praise and you!
      But the wronged great souls--can they be quit
    Of a world where their work is all to do,
      Where you style them, you of the little wit,
    Old Master This and Early the Other,
      Not dreaming that Old and New are fellows:
    A younger succeeds to an elder brother,
      Da Vincis derive in good time from Dellos.

    And here where your praise might yield returns,
      And a handsome word or two give help,
    Here, after your kind, the mastiff girns
      And the puppy pack of poodles yelp.
    What, not a word for Stefano there,
      Of brow once prominent and starry,
    Called Nature's Ape, and the world's despair
      For his peerless painting? (See Vasari.)

    There stands the Master. Study, my friends,
      What a man's work comes to! So he plans it,
    Performs it, perfects it, makes amends
      For the toiling and moiling, and then, _sic transit!_
    Happier the thrifty blind-folk labor,
      With upturned eye while the hand is busy,
    Not sidling a glance at the coin of their neighbor!
      'T is looking downward that makes one dizzy.

    "If you knew their work you would deal your dole."
      May I take upon me to instruct you?
    When Greek Art ran and reached the goal,
      Thus much had the world to boast _in fructu_--
    The Truth of Man, as by God first spoken,
      Which the actual generations garble,
    Was re-uttered, and Soul (which Limbs betoken)
      And Limbs (Soul informs) made new in marble.

    So you saw yourself as you wished you were,
      As you might have been, as you cannot be;
    Earth here, rebuked by Olympus there:
      And grew content in your poor degree
    With your little power, by those statues' god-head
      And your little scope, by their eyes' full sway,
    And your little grace, by their grace embodied,
      And your little date, by their forms that stay.

    You would fain be kinglier, say, than I am?
      Even so, you will not sit like Theseus.
    You would prove a model? The Son of Priam
      Has yet the advantage in arms' and knees' use.
    You 're wroth--can you slay your snake like Apollo?
      You 're grieved--still Niobe's the grander!
    You live--there's the Racers' frieze to follow:
      You die--there's the dying Alexander.

    So, testing your weakness by their strength,
      Your meagre charms by their rounded beauty,
    Measured by Art in your breadth and length,
      You learned--to submit is a mortal's duty.
    --When I say "you" 'tis the common soul,
      The collective, I mean: the race of Man
    That receives life in parts to live in a whole,
      And grow here according to God's clear plan.

    Growth came when, looking your last on them all,
      You turned your eyes inwardly one fine day
    And cried with a start--What if we so small
      Be greater and grander the while than they?
    Are they perfect of lineament, perfect of stature?
      In both, of such lower types are we
    Precisely because of our wider nature;
      For time, theirs--ours, for eternity.

    To-day's brief passion limits their range;
      It seethes with the morrow for us and more.
    They are perfect--how else? they shall never change:
      We are faulty--why not? we have time in store.
    The Artificer's hand is not arrested
      With us; we are rough-hewn, nowise polished:
    They stand for our copy, and, once invested
      With all they can teach, we shall see them abolished.

    'T is a life-long toil till our lump be leaven--
      The better! What's come to perfection perishes.
    Things learned on earth, we shall practise in heaven:
      Works done least rapidly, Art most cherishes.
    Thyself shalt afford the example, Giotto!
      Thy one work, not to decrease or diminish,
    Done at a stroke, was just (was it not?) "O!"
      Thy great Campanile is still to finish.

    Is it true that we are now, and shall be hereafter,
      But what and where depend on life's minute?
    Hails heavenly cheer or infernal laughter
      Our first step out of the gulf or in it?
    Shall Man, such step within his endeavor,
      Man's face, have no more play and action
    Than joy which is crystallized forever,
      Or grief, an eternal petrifaction?

    On which I conclude, that the early painters,
      To cries of "Greek Art and what more wish you?"--
    Replied, "To become now self-acquainters,
      And paint man, man, whatever the issue!
    Make new hopes shine through the flesh they fray,
      New fears aggrandize the rags and tatters:
    To bring the invisible full into play!
      Let the visible go to the dogs--what matters?"

    Give these, I exhort you, their guerdon and glory
      For daring so much, before they well did it.
    The first of the new, in our race's story,
      Beats the last of the old; 't is no idle quiddit.
    The worthies began a revolution,
      Which if on earth you intend to acknowledge,
    Why, honor them now! (ends my allocution)
      Nor confer your degree when the folk leave college.

    There's a fancy some lean to and others hate--
      That, when this life is ended, begins
    New work for the soul in another state,
      Where it strives and gets weary, loses and wins:
    Where the strong and the weak, this world's congeries,
      Repeat in large what they practised in small,
    Through life after life in unlimited series;
      Only the scale's to be changed, that's all.

    Yet I hardly know. When a soul has seen
      By the means of Evil that Good is best,
    And, through earth and its noise, what is heaven's serene,--
      When our faith in the same has stood the test--
    Why, the child grown man, you burn the rod,
      The uses of labor are surely done;
    There remaineth a rest for the people of God:
      And I have had troubles enough, for one.

    But at any rate I have loved the season
      Of Art's spring-birth so dim and dewy;
    My sculptor is Nicolo the Pisan,
      My painter--who but Cimabue?
    Nor ever was man of them all indeed,
      From these to Ghiberti and Ghirlandajo,
    Could say that he missed my critic-meed.
      So, now to my special grievance--heigh-ho!

    Their ghosts still stand, as I said before,
      Watching each fresco flaked and rasped,
    Blocked up, knocked out, or whitewashed o'er:
      --No getting again what the church has grasped!
    The works on the wall must take their chance;
      "Works never conceded to England's thick clime!"
    (I hope they prefer their inheritance
      Of a bucketful of Italian quick-lime.)

    When they go at length, with such a shaking
      Of heads o'er the old delusion, sadly
    Each master his way through the black streets taking,
      Where many a lost work breathes though badly--
    Why don't they bethink them of who has merited?
      Why not reveal, while their pictures dree
    Such doom, how a captive might be out-ferreted?
      Why is it they never remember me?

    Not that I expect the great Bigordi,
      Nor Sandro to hear me, chivalric, bellicose;
    Nor the wronged Lippino; and not a word I
      Say of a scrap of Frà Angelico's:
    But are you too fine, Taddeo Gaddi,
      To grant me a taste of your intonaco,
    Some Jerome that seeks the heaven with a sad eye?
      Not a churlish saint, Lorenzo Monaco?

    Could not the ghost with the close red cap,
      My Pollajolo, the twice a craftsman,
    Save me a sample, give me the hap
      Of a muscular Christ that shows the draughtsman?
    No Virgin by him the somewhat petty,
      Of finical touch and tempera crumbly--
    Could not Alesso Baldovinetti
      Contribute so much, I ask him humbly?

    Margheritone of Arezzo,
      With the grave-clothes garb and swaddling barret,
    (Why purse up mouth and beak in a pet so,
      You bald old saturnine poll-clawed parrot?)
    Not a poor glimmering Crucifixion,
      Where in the foreground kneels the donor?
    If such remain, as is my conviction,
      The hoarding it does you but little honor.

    They pass; for them the panels may thrill,
      The tempera grow alive and tinglish;
    Their pictures are left to the mercies still
      Of dealers and stealers, Jews and the English,
    Who, seeing mere money's worth in their prize,
      Will sell it to somebody calm as Zeno
    At naked High Art, and in ecstasies
      Before some clay-cold vile Carlino!

    No matter for these! But Giotto, you,
      Have you allowed, as the town-tongues babble it,--
    Oh, never! it shall not be counted true--
      That a certain precious little tablet
    Which Buonarroti eyed like a lover--
      Was buried so long in oblivion's womb
    And, left for another than I to discover,
      Turns up at last! and to whom?--to whom?

    I, that have haunted the dim San Spirito,
      (Or was it rather the Ognissanti?)
    Patient on altar-step planting a weary toe!
      Nay, I shall have it yet! _Detur amanti!_
    My Koh-i-noor--or (if that's a platitude)
      Jewel of Giamschid, the Persian Sofi's eye;
    So, in anticipative gratitude,
      What if I take up my hope and prophesy?

    When the hour grows ripe, and a certain dotard
      Is pitched, no parcel that needs invoicing,
    To the worse side of the Mont St. Gothard,
      We shall begin by way of rejoicing;
    None of that shooting the sky (blank cartridge),
      Nor a civic guard, all plumes and lacquer,
    Hunting Radetzky's soul like a partridge
      Over Morello with squib and cracker.

    This time we 'll shoot better game and bag 'em hot--
      No mere display at the stone of Dante,
    But a kind of sober Witanagemot
      (Ex: "Casa Guidi," _quod videas ante_)
    Shall ponder, once Freedom restored to Florence,
      How Art may return that departed with her.
    Go, hated house, go each trace of the Loraine's,
      And bring us the days of Orgagna hither!

    How we shall prologuize, how we shall perorate,
      Utter fit things upon art and history,
    Feel truth at blood-heat and falsehood at zero rate,
      Make of the want of the age no mystery;
    Contrast the fructuous and sterile eras,
      Show--monarchy ever its uncouth cub licks
    Out of the bear's shape into Chimæra's,
      While Pure Art's birth is still the republic's.

    Then one shall propose in a speech (curt Tuscan,
      Expurgate and sober, with scarcely an "_issimo,_")
    To end now our half-told tale of Cambuscan,
      And turn the bell-tower's _alt_ to _altissimo;_
    And fine as the beak of a young beccaceia
    The Campanile, the Duomo's fit ally,
      Shall soar up in gold full fifty braccia,
    Completing Florence, as Florence Italy.

    Shall I be alive that morning the scaffold
      Is broken away, and the long-pent fire,
    Like the golden hope of the world, unbaffled
      Springs from its sleep, and up goes the spire
    While "God and the People" plain for its motto,
      Thence the new tricolor flaps at the sky?
    At least to foresee that glory of Giotto
      And Florence together, the first am I!


    Your ghost will walk, you lover of trees,
         (If our loves remain)
         In an English lane,
    By a cornfield-side a-flutter with poppies.
    Hark, those two in the hazel coppice--
    A boy and a girl, if the good fates please,
         Making love, say,--
         The happier they!
    Draw yourself up from the light of the moon,
    And let them pass, as they will too soon,
         With the beanflowers' boon,
         And the blackbird's tune,
         And May, and June!

    What I love best in all the world
    Is a castle, precipice-encurled,
    In a gash of the wind-grieved Apennine,
    Or look for me, old fellow of mine,
    (If I get my head from out the mouth
    O' the grave, and loose my spirit's bands,
    And come again to the land of lands)--
    In a sea-side house to the farther South,
    Where the baked cicala dies of drouth,
    And one sharp tree--'t is a cypress--stands.
    By the many hundred years red-rusted,
    Rough iron-spiked, ripe fruit-o'ercrusted,
    My sentinel to guard the sands
    To the water's edge. For, what expands