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Title: Poems from Eastern Sources: - The Steadfast Prince and Other Poems
Author: Trench, Richard Chenevix
Language: English
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                      POEMS FROM EASTERN SOURCES:
                         THE STEADFAST PRINCE;
                           AND OTHER POEMS.

                                  BY
                       RICHARD CHENEVIX TRENCH.

                                LONDON:
                      EDWARD MOXON, DOVER STREET.
                              MDCCCXLII.



                                LONDON:
              BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.



CONTENTS.


POEMS FROM EASTERN SOURCES.

                                                    PAGE

ALEXANDER AT THE GATES OF PARADISE.—A LEGEND
  FROM THE TALMUD                                      3

CHIDHER’S WELL                                        11

THE BANISHED KINGS                                    14

THE BALLADS OF HAROUN AL RASCHID:
      I.—THE SPILT PEARLS                             20
     II.—THE BARMECIDES                               24
    III.—THE FESTIVAL                                 35

THE EASTERN NARCISSUS                                 41

THE SEASONS:
      I.—WINTER                                       43
     II.—SPRING                                       46
    III.—SUMMER                                       49
     IV.—AUTUMN                                       52

MOSES AND JETHRO                                      55

PROVERBS, TURKISH AND PERSIAN                         60

“THE GOOD THAT ONE MAN FLINGS ASIDE”                  64

LOVE                                                  67

THE FALCON                                            69

LIFE THROUGH DEATH:

      I.—“A PAGAN KING TORMENTED FIERCELY ALL”        71

     II.—“A DEW-DROP FALLING ON THE WILD SEA
              WAVE”                                   73

    III.—“THE SEED MUST DIE, BEFORE THE CORN
              APPEARS”                                74

THE WORLD                                             75

THE MONK AND SINNER                                   78

“WHAT, THOU ASKEST, IS THE HEAVEN, AND THE
  ROUND EARTH AND THE SEA”                            81

THE SUPPLIANT                                         84

THE PANTHEIST; OR, THE ORIGIN OF EVIL                 87

GHAZEL                                                90

THE RIGHTEOUS OF THE WORLD                            91

MAXIMS                                                94

THE FALCON’S REWARD                                   96

THE CONVERSION OF ABRAHAM                            101

SONNET                                               103

THE DEAD DOG                                         104

“FAIR VESSEL HAST THOU SEEN WITH HONEY FILLED”       106

FRAGMENTS:
      I.—THE CERTAINTY OF FAITH                      108
     II.—MAN’S TWOFOLD NATURE                        109
    III.—SCIENCE AND LOVE                            110
     IV.—“THE BUSINESS OF THE WORLD IS CHILD’S
              PLAY MERE”                             111
      V.—“SAGE, THAT WOULD’ST MAKER OF THINE OWN
              GOD BE”                                112
     VI.—“MAN, THE CAGED BIRD THAT OWNED AN
              HIGHER NEST”                           113

NOTES TO THE POEMS FROM EASTERN SOURCES              115


THE STEADFAST PRINCE:
    PART I.                                          125
    PART II.                                         152

ORPHEUS AND THE SIRENS                               173

ST. CHRYSOSTOM                                       184

THE OIL OF MERCY                                     185

THE TREE OF LIFE.—FROM THE GERMAN OF RÜCKERT         192

THE TREE OF LIFE.—FROM AN OLD LATIN POEM             195

PARADISE.—FROM THE GERMAN OF RÜCKERT                 199

THE LOREY LEY.—FROM THE GERMAN OF HEINE              203

“OH THOU OF DARK FOREBODINGS DREAR”                  205

THE PRODIGAL                                         206

THE CORREGAN.—A BALLAD OF BRITTANY                   208

SONNET                                               214

SONNET                                               215

SONNET                                               216

THE ETRURIAN KING                                    217

THE FAMINE                                           219

THE PRIZE OF SONG                                    231

NOTES                                                235



ERRATA.


Page 39, line 9, for _one_ read _our_.

— 191, — 11, dele comma.

— 215, — 2, for _light_ read _slight_.



POEMS
FROM
EASTERN SOURCES.



NOTE.


The following Poems bear somewhat a vague title, because
such only would describe the nature of Poems which have been
derived in very different degrees from the sources thus indicated.
Some are mere translations; others have been modelled anew,
and only such portions used of the originals as were adapted to
my purpose: of others it is only the imagery and thought which
are Eastern, and these have been put together in new combinations;
while of others it is the story, and nothing more, which has been
borrowed, it may be from some prose source. On this subject,
however, more information will be given in the Notes.



ALEXANDER AT THE GATES OF PARADISE.

A Legend from the Talmud.


Fierce was the glare of Cashmere’s middle day,
When Alexander for Hydaspes bent,
Through trackless wilds urged his impetuous way

Yet in that vast and sandy continent
A little vale he found, so calm, so sweet,
He there awhile to tarry was content.

A crystal stream was murmuring at his feet,
Whereof the Monarch, when his meal was done,
Took a long draught, to slake his fever heat.

Again he drank, and yet again, as one
Who would have drained that river crystalline
Of all its waves, and left it dry anon:

For in his veins, ofttimes a-fire with wine,
And in his bosom, throne of sleepless pride,
The while he drank, went circling peace divine.

It seemed as though all evil passions died
Within him, slaked was every fire accurst;
So that in rapturous joy aloud he cried:

“Oh! might I find where these pure waters first
Shoot sparkling from their living fountain-head,
Oh! there to quench my spirit’s inmost thirst.

“Sure, if we followed where these waters led,
We should at last some fairer region gain
Than yet has quaked beneath our iron tread,—

“Some land that should in very truth contain
Whate’er we dream of beautiful and bright,
And idly dreaming of, pursue in vain;

“That land must stoop beneath our conquering might.
Companions dear, this toil remains alone,
To win that region of unmatched delight.

“Oh faithful in a thousand labours known,
One toil remains, the noblest and the last;
Let us arise—and make that land our own.”

—Through realms of darkness, wildernesses vast,
All populous with sights and sounds of fear,
In heat and cold, by day and night, he past,

With trumpet clang, with banner and with spear,
Yearning to drink that river, where it sent
Its first pure waters forth, serene and clear;

Till boldest captains sank, their courage spent,
And dying cried—“This stream all search defies,”—
But never would he tarry nor repent,

Nor pitched his banners, till before his eyes
Rose high as heaven in its secluded state
The mighty verdant wall of Paradise.

And lo! that stream, which early still and late
He had tracked upward, issued bright and clear
From underneath the angel-guarded gate:

—“And who art thou that hast adventured here,
Daring to startle this serene abode
With flash of mortal weapons, sword and spear?”

So the angelic sentinel of God,
Fire flashing, to the bold invader cried,
Whose feet profane those holy precincts trod.

The Son of Philip without dread replied,
“Is Alexander’s fame unknown to thee,
Which the world knows—mine, who have victory tied

“To my sword’s hilt, and who, while stoop to me
All other lands, would win what rich or fair
This land contains, and have it mine in fee?”

—“Thou dost thyself proclaim that part or share
Thou hast not here.—O man of blood and sin,
Go back—with those blood-stainèd hands despair

“This place of love and holy peace to win:
This is the gate of righteousness, and they,
The righteous, only here may enter in.”

Around, before him, lightnings dart and play:
He undismayed—“Of travail long and hard
At least some trophy let me bear away.”

—“Lo! then this skull—which if thou wilt regard,
And to my question seek for fit reply,
All thy long labours shall have full reward.

“Once in that hollow circle lodged an eye,
That was, like thine, for ever coveting,
Which worlds on worlds had failed to satisfy.

“Now while thou gazest on that ghastly ring,
From whence of old a greedy eye outspied,
Say thou what was it,—for there was a thing,—

“Which filled at last and throughly satisfied
The eye that in that hollow circle dwelt,
So that, ‘Enough, I have enough,’ it cried.”

—Blank disappointment at the gift he felt,
And hardly taking, turned in scorn away,
Nor he the riddle of the Angel spelt,

But cried unto his captains, “We delay,
And at these portals lose our time in vain,
By more than mortal terrors kept at bay:

“Come—other lands as goodly spoils contain,
Come—all too long untouched the Indian gold,
The pearls and spice of Araby remain.

“Come, and who will this riddle may unfold.”
Then stood before him, careless of his ire,
An Indian sage, and rendered answer bold—

“Lord of the world, commanded to enquire
What was it that could satisfy an eye,
That organ of man’s wandering vast desire,—

“By deed and word thou plainly dost reply,
That its desire can nothing tame or quell,
That it can never know sufficiency.

“While thou enlargest thy desire as hell,
Filling thine hand, but filling not thy lust,
Thou dost proclaim man’s eye insatiable:

“Such answer from thy lips were only just;
Yet ’twas not so. One came at last, who threw
Into yon face an heap of vilest dust,

“Whereof a few small grains did fall into
And filled the orb and hollow of that eye,
When that which suffisance not ever knew,
Was fain, ‘Enough, I have enough,’ to cry.”



CHIDHER’S WELL.


I.

Thee have thousands sought in vain
Over land and barren main,


II.

Chidher’s well,—of which they say
That it maketh young again;


III.

Fountain of eternal youth,
Washing free from every stain.


IV.

To its waves the aged moons
Aye betake them, when they wane;


V.

And the suns their golden light,
While they bathe therein, retain.


VI.

From that fountain drops are flung,
Mingling with the vernal rain,


VII.

And the old Earth clothes itself
In its young attire again.


VIII.

Thitherward the freckled trout
Up the water-courses strain,


IX.

And the timid wild gazelles
Seek it through the desert plain.


X.

Great Iskander[A], mighty Lord,
Sought that fountain, but in vain;


XI.

Through the land of darkness went
In its quest with fruitless pain,


XII.

While through wealth of conquered worlds
Did his thirst unslaked remain.


XIII.

Many more with parchèd lip
Must lie down, and dizzy brain,


XIV.

And of that, a fountain sealed
Unto them, in death complain.


XV.

If its springs to thee are known,
Weary wanderer, tell me plain.


XVI.

From beneath the throne of God
It must well, a lucid vein.


XVII.

To its sources lead me, Lord,
That I do not thirst again,


XVIII.

And my lips not any more
Shall the earth’s dark waters stain.

[Footnote A: Alexander.]



THE BANISHED KINGS.


On a fair ship, borne swiftly o’er the deep,
A man was lying, wrapt in dreamless sleep;
When unawares upon a sunken rock
That vessel struck, and shattered with the shock.
But strange! the plank where lay the sleeper bore
Him wrapt in deep sleep ever, to the shore:
It bore him safely through the foam and spray,
High up on land, where couched ’mid flowers he lay.
Sweet tones first woke him from his sleep, when round
His couch observant multitudes he found:
All hailed him then, and did before him bow,
And with one voice exclaimed,—“Our King art thou.”
With jubilant applause they bore him on,
And set him wondering on a royal throne:
And some his limbs with royal robes arrayed,
And some before him duteous homage paid,
And some brought gifts, all rare and costly things,
Nature’s and Art’s profusest offerings.
Around him counsellors and servants prest,
All eager to accomplish his behest.
Wish unaccomplished of his soul was none;
The thing that he commanded, it was done.

  Much he rejoiced, and he had well nigh now
Forgotten whence he hither came, and how;
Until at eve, of homage weary grown,
He craved a season to be left alone.
Alone in hall magnificent he sate,
And mused upon the wonder of his fate,
When lo! an aged counsellor, a seer
Before unnoticed, to the King drew near,
—“And thee would I too gratulate, my son,
Who hast thy reign in happy hour begun:
Seen hast thou the beginning, yet attend,
While I shall also shew to thee the end.
That this new fortune do not blind thee quite,
Both sides observe, its shadowy as its bright:
Heed what so many who have ruled before,
Failing to heed, must rue for evermore.
Though sure thy state and firm thy throne appear,
King only art thou for the Present here.
A time is fixed, albeit unknown to thee,
Which when it comes, thou banished hence shalt be.
Round this fair isle, though hidden from the eye
By mist and vapour, many islands lie:
Bare are their coasts, and dreary and forlorn,
And unto them the banished kings are borne;
On each of these an exiled king doth mourn.
For when a new king comes, they bear away
The old, whom now no vassals more obey;
Unhonoured and unwilling he is sent
Unto his dreary island banishment,
While all who girt his throne with service true
Now fall away from him, to serve the new.

  “What I have told thee lay betimes to heart,
And ere thy rule is ended, take thy part,
That thou hereafter on thine isle forlorn
Do not thy vanished kingdom vainly mourn,
When nothing of its pomp to thee remains,
On that bare shore, save only memory’s pains.

  “Much, O my Prince! my words have thee distrest,
Thy head has sunk in sorrow on thy breast;
Yet idle sorrow helps not—I will show
A nobler way, which shall true help bestow.
This counsel take—to others given in vain,
While no belief from them my words might gain.—
Know then whilst thou art Monarch here, there stand
Helps for the future many at command.
Then, while thou canst, employ them to adorn
That island, whither thou must once be borne.
Unbuilt and waste and barren now that strand,
There gush no fountains from the thirsty sand,
No groves of palm-trees have been planted there,
Nor plants of odorous scent embalm that air,
While all alike have shunned to contemplate
That they should ever change their flattering state.
But make thou there provision of delight,
Till that which now so threatens, may invite;
Bid there thy servants build up royal towers,
And change its barren sands to leafy bowers;
Bid fountains there be hewn, and cause to bloom
Immortal amaranths, shedding rich perfume.
So when the world, which speaks thee now so fair,
And flatters so, again shall strip thee bare,
And sends thee naked forth in harshest wise,
Thou joyfully wilt seek thy Paradise.
_There_ will not vex thee memories of the past,
While hope will heighten here the joys thou hast.
This do, while yet the power is in thine hand,
While thou hast helps so many at command.”

  Then raised the Prince his head with courage new,
And what the sage advised, prepared to do.
He ruled his realm with meekness, and meanwhile
He marvellously decked the chosen isle;
Bade there his servants build up royal towers,
And change its barren sands to leafy bowers;
Bade fountains there be hewn, and caused to bloom
Immortal amaranths, shedding rich perfume.
And when he long enough had kept his throne,
To him sweet odours from that isle were blown:
Then knew he that its gardens blooming were,
And all the yearnings of his soul were there.
Grief was it not to him, but joy, when they
His crown and sceptre bade him quit one day;
When him his servants rudely did dismiss,
’Twas not the sentence of his ended bliss,
But pomp and power he cheerfully forsook,
And to his isle a willing journey took,
And found diviner pleasure on that shore,
Than all, his proudest state had known before.



THE

BALLADS OF HAROUN AL RASCHID.


I.

THE SPILT PEARLS.

I.

His courtiers of the Caliph crave—
  “Oh, say how this may be,
That of thy slaves, this Ethiop slave
  Is best beloved by thee?

II.

“For he is hideous as the Night:
  But when has ever chose
A nightingale for its delight,
  A hueless, scentless rose?”

III.

The Caliph then—“No features fair
  Nor comely mien are his:
Love is the beauty he doth wear,
  And Love his glory is.

IV.

“Once when a camel of my train
  There fell in narrow street,
From broken casket rolled amain
  Rich pearls before my feet.

V.

“I winking to my slaves, that I
  Would freely give them these,
At once upon the spoil they fly,
  The costly boon to seize.

VI.

“One only at my side remained—
  Beside this Ethiop, none:
He, moveless as the steed he reined,
  Behind me sat alone.

VII.

“‘What will thy gain, good fellow, be,
  Thus lingering at my side?’—
—‘My King, that I shall faithfully
  Have guarded thee,’ he cried.

VIII.

“‘True servant’s title he may wear,
  He only who has not,
For his Lord’s gifts, how rich soe’er,
  His Lord himself forgot!’”

IX.

—So thou alone dost walk before
  Thy God with perfect aim,
From him desiring nothing more
  Beside himself to claim.

X.

For if thou not to him aspire,
  But to his gifts alone,
Not Love, but covetous desire,
  Has brought thee to his throne.

XI.

While such thy prayer, it climbs above
  In vain—the golden key
Of God’s rich treasure-house of love,
  Thine own will never be.


II.

THE BARMECIDES.

Haroun the Just!—yet once that name
Of Just the ruler ill became,
By whose too hasty sentence died
The royal-hearted Barmecide.
O Barmecide, of hand and heart
So prompt, so forward to impart,
Of bounty so unchecked and free,
That once a Poet sung, how he
Would fear thy very hand to touch,
Lest he should learn to give too much,
Lest, catching the contagion thence
Of thy unmatched munificence,
A beggar he should soon remain,
Helpless his bounty to restrain—
O Barmecide of royal heart,
My childhood’s tears again will start
Into mine eyes, the tears I shed,
As I remember, when I read
Of harsh injustice done to thee,
And all thy princely family.

  —What marvel that the Caliph, stung
With secret consciousness of wrong,
Or now desiring every trace
Of that large bounty to efface,
With penalty of death forbade
That mourning should for them be made;
That any should with grateful song
Their memory in men’s hearts prolong?
—“And who art thou, that day by day
Hast dared my mandate disobey?
Who art thou whom my guards have found,
Now standing on some grass-grown mound,
Now wandering ’mid the ruined towers,
Fall’n palaces, and wasted bowers
Of those, at length for traitors known,
And by my justice overthrown—
Singing a plaintive dirge for them
Whom my just vengeance did condemn;
Till ever, as I learn, around
Thy steps a listening crowd is found,
Who still unto thy sad lament
Do with their sobs and tears consent;
While in the bosom of that throng
Rise thoughts that do their Monarch wrong?
What doom I did for this assign
Thou knewest, and that doom is thine.”

  But then the offender,—“Give me room,
And I will gladly take my doom,
O King, to spend my latest breath,
Ere I am hurried to my death,
In telling for what highest grace
I was beholden to that race,
Whose memory my heart hath kept,
Whose sunken glories I have wept.
For then, at least, it will appear
That not in disobedience mere
Thy mandate high I overpast.
—O King, I was the least and last
Of all the servitors of him,
Whose glory in thy frown grew dim,—
The least and last—yet he one day
To me, his meanest slave, did say
That he was fain my guest to be,
And the next day would sup with me.
More time I willingly had craved,
But my excuses all he waved,
And by no train accompanied,
His two sons only at his side,
At my poor lodging lighted down,
Which at the limits of the town
Stood in a close and narrow street.
Him I and mine did humbly greet,
Standing before him while he shared
What we meanwhile had best prepared
Of entertainment, though the best
Was poor and mean for such a guest.

  “But supper done, with cheerful mien,
‘Thy house,’ he cried, ‘I have not seen,
Thy gardens;—let me pace awhile
Along some cool and shadowy aisle.’
I thought he mocked me, but replied,
‘Possessions have I not so wide:
For house, another room with this
Our only habitation is;
And garden have I none to show,
Unless that narrow court below,
Shut in with lofty walls, that name
In right of four dwarf shrubs may claim.’
—‘Nay, nay,’ he answered, ‘there is more,
If only we could find the door.’
Again I told him, but in vain,
That he had seen my whole domain.
—‘Nay, go then quick, a mason call.’
Him bade he straightway pierce the wall.
—‘But shall we in this wise invade
A neighbour’s house?’—No heed he paid,
And I stood dumb, and wondering
Whereto he would the issue bring.
Anon he through the opening past,
He and his sons, and I the last;
When suddenly myself I found
In ample space of garden ground,
Or rather in a Paradise
Of rare and wonderful device,
With stately walks and alleys wide,
Far stretching upon every side;
And streams, upon whose either bank
Stood lofty platanes, rank by rank,
And marble fountains, scattering high
Illumined dew-drops in the sky;
And making a low tinkling sound,
As sliding down from mound to mound,
They did at last their courses take
Down to a calm and lucid lake,
By which, on gently sloping height,
There stood a palace of delight;
And many slaves, but all of rare
And perfect beauty, marshalled there,
Did each to me incline the knee,
Exclaiming all—‘Thy servants we.’

  “And then my Lord cried, laughing—‘Nay,
While this is thine, how could’st thou say
That thou had’st shown me all before?
Thine is it all.’—He said no more,
But at my benefactor’s feet
I falling, thanks would render meet.
He, scarcely listening, turned his head,
And to his eldest son he said:
‘This house, these gardens, ’twere in vain,
Unless enabled to maintain,
That he should call them his;—my son,
Let us not leave this grace half done:’
Who then replied—‘My farms beyond
The Tigris I by sealèd bond
This night before we part, will see
Made over unto him in fee,’
—‘’Tis well; but there will months ensue,
Ere his incomings will be due.
What shall there, the meanwhile, be done?’
He turned unto his younger son,
Who answered—‘I will bid that gold,
Ten thousand pieces, shall be told
Unto his steward presently;
These shall his urgent needs supply.’
’Twas done upon that very eve;
And done, anon they took their leave,
And left me free to contemplate
The wonders of my novel state.

  “Prince of the faithful, mighty King,
My fortunes from this source had spring,
Which, if they since that time have grown,
Him their first author still I own.
Nor when that name, which was the praise
Of all the world, on evil days
Had fall’n, was I content to let
Be quite forgotten the large debt
I owe to him;—content to die,
If such shall be thy pleasure high,
And my offence shall seem to thee
Deserving of such penalty.”

  What marvel that the King who heard
Was in his inmost bosom stirred?
What marvel that he owned the force
Of late regret and vain remorse?
That spreading palm, whose boughs had made
Far stretching such an ample shade
For many a wanderer through life’s waste,
He had hewn down in guilty haste;
That fountain free, that springing well
Of goodness inexhaustible,
His hand had stopt it, ne’er again
To slake the thirst of weary men.
That genial sun, which evermore
Did on a cold, chill world outpour
Its rays of love and life and light,
’Twas he who quenched in darkest night.
What marvel that he owned the force
Of late regret and vain remorse,
And (all he could) now freely gave
The life the other did not crave?
Nay more, the offender did dismiss
With gifts and praise—nor only this,
But did the unrighteous law reverse
Which had forbidden to rehearse,
And in the minds of men prolong,
By grateful speech or plaintive song,
The bounteous acts and graces wide,
And goodness of the Barmecide.


III.

THE FESTIVAL.

I.

Five hundred princely guests before
  Haroun Al Raschid sate:
Five hundred princely guests or more
  Admired his royal state.

II.

For never had that glory been
  So royally displayed,
Nor ever such a gorgeous scene
  Had eye of man surveyed.

III.

He, most times meek of heart, yet now
  Of spirit too elate,
Exclaimed—“Before me Cesars bow,
  On me two empires wait.

IV.

“Yet all our glories something lack,
  We do our triumphs wrong,
Until to us reflected back
  In mirrors clear of song.

V.

“Call him then unto whom this power
  Is given, this skill sublime—
Now win from us some gorgeous dower
  With song that fits the time.”

VI.

—“My King, as I behold thee now,
  May I behold thee still,
While prostrate worlds before thee bow,
  And wait upon thy will!

VII.

“May evermore this clear pure heaven,
  Whence every speck and stain
Of trouble far away is driven,
  Above thy head remain!”

VIII.

The Caliph cried—“Thou wishest well;
  There waits thee golden store
For this—but, oh! resume the spell,
  I fain would listen more.”

IX.

—“Drink thou life’s sweetest goblet up,
  O King, and may its wine,
For others’ lips a mingled cup,
  Be all unmixed for thine.

X.

“Live long—the shadow of no grief
  Come ever near to thee:
As thou in height of place art chief,
  So chief in gladness be.”

XI.

Haroun Al Raschid cried again—
  “I thank thee—but proceed,
And now take up an higher strain,
  And win an higher mead.”

XII.

Around that high magnific hall,
  One glance the poet threw
On courtiers, king, and festival,
  And did the strain renew.

XIII.

—“And yet, and yet—shalt thou at last
  Lie stretched on bed of death:
Then, when thou drawest thick and fast
  With sobs thy painful breath—

XIV.

“When Azrael glides through guarded gate,
  Through hosts that camp around
Their lord in vain—and will not wait,
  When thou art sadly bound

XV.

“Unto thine house of dust alone,
  O King, when thou must die,—
This pomp a shadow thou shalt own,
  This glory all a lie.”

XVI.

Then darkness on all faces hung,
  And through the banquet went
Low sounds the murmuring guests among
  Of angry discontent.

XVII.

And him anon they fiercely urge—
  “What guerdon shall be thine?
What does it, this untimely dirge,
  ’Mid feasts, and flowers, and wine?

XVIII.

“One lord demanded in his mirth
  A strain to heighten glee;
But, lo! at thine his tears come forth
  In current swift and free.”

XIX.

—“Peace—not to him rebukes belong,
  But rather highest grace;
He gave me what I asked, a song
  To fit the time and place.”

XX.

All voices at that voice were stilled;
  Again the Caliph cried,—
“He saw our mouths with laughter filled,
  He saw us drunk with pride;

XXI.

“And bade us know that every road,
  By monarch trod or slave,
Thick set with thorns, with roses strowed,
  Doth issue in the grave.”



THE EASTERN NARCISSUS.


  Thou art the fox, O man, that, maugre all
His cunning, did into the water fall.
This fox was travelling once o’er hill and dell,
And reached at length the margin of a well;
His head he stooped into the well, when, lo!
Another fox did in the water show.
He winks, he nods—the other fox replies:
“What, ho! we must be better friends,” he cries;
And more acquaintance covetous to win,
Without more thought jumped Reynard headlong in.
He reached the bottom at a single bound,
But there no fox beside himself he found:
Upward again he now would gladly spring,
But to ascend was no such easy thing.
He splashes, struggles, and in sad voice cries,
“Fool that I was! I deemed myself more wise.
Ah wretch! will no one come unto my aid?”—
But prayer and effort both were vainly made:
Soon did the water drag him down to death;
With a loud cry he sank the waves beneath.

  Thou art the fox of which the fable tells—
This world of sense the Devil’s well of wells.
Thou saw’st reflected thine own image there,
And didst plunge headlong in without a care.
Oh happy! if thou struggle back to-day,
Ere the strong whirlpool drags thee down for aye.



THE SEASONS.


I.

WINTER.

I.

White ermine now the mountains wear,
To shield their naked shoulders bare.

II.

The dark pine wears the snow, as head
Of Ethiop doth white turban wear.

III.

The floods are armed with silver shields,
Through which the Sun’s sword cannot fare;

IV.

For he who trod heaven’s middle road
In golden arms, on golden chair,

V.

Now through small corner of the sky
Creeps low, nor warms the foggy air.

VI.

To mutter ’twixt their teeth the streams,
In icy fetters, scarcely dare.

VII.

Hushed is the busy hum of life;
’Tis silence in the earth and air.

VIII.

From mountains issues the gaunt wolf,
And from its forest depths the bear.

IX.

Where is the garden’s beauty now?
The thorn is here; the rose, oh! where?

X.

The trees, like giant skeletons,
Wave high their fleshless arms and bare;

XI.

Or stand like wrestlers, stripped and bold,
And wildest winds to battle dare.

XII.

It seems a thing impossible
That earth its glories should repair;

XIII.

That ever this bleak world again
Should bright and beauteous mantle wear,

XIV.

Or sounds of life again be heard
In this dull earth and vacant air.


II.

SPRING.

I.

Who was it that so lately said,
All pulses in thine heart were dead,

II.

Old Earth, that now in festal robes
Appearest, as a bride new wed?

III.

Oh wrapt so late in winding-sheet,
Thy winding-sheet, oh! where is fled?

IV.

Lo! ’tis an emerald carpet now
Where the young monarch, Spring, may tread.

V.

He comes,—and, a defeated king,
Old Winter, to the hills is fled.

VI.

The warm wind broke his frosty spear,
And loosed the helmet from his head;

VII.

And he weak showers of arrowy sleet
For his strongholds has vainly sped.

VIII.

All that was sleeping is awake,
And all is living that was dead.

IX.

Who listens now, can hear the streams
Leap tinkling down their pebbly bed,

X.

Or see them, from their fetters free,
Like silver snakes the meadows thread.

XI.

The joy, the life, the hope of earth,
They slept awhile, they were not dead:

XII.

Oh thou, who say’st thy sere heart ne’er
With verdure can again be spread;

XIII.

Oh thou, who mournest them that sleep,
Low lying in an earthy bed;

XIV.

Look out on this reviving world,
And be new hopes within thee bred.


III.

SUMMER.

I.

Now seems all nature to conspire
As to dissolve the world in fire,

II.

Which dies among its odorous sweets,
A Phœnix on its funeral pyre.

III.

Simoom breathes hotly from the waste,
The green earth quits its green attire;

IV.

Floats o’er the plain the liquid heat,
Cheating the traveller’s fond desire—

V.

Illusion fair of lake and stream,
Receding as he draweth nigher.

VI.

Ice is more precious now than gold,
Snow more than silver men desire.

VII.

’Tis far to seek unfailing wells
For tender maid or aged sire;

VIII.

Men know the worth of water now,
And learn to prize God’s blessing higher;

IX.

The shallow pools have disappeared,
Caked into iron is the mire.

X.

Through clouds of dust the crimson sun
Glares on the earth in lurid ire;

XI.

The parchèd earth with thirsty lips
Is gasping, ready to expire.

XII.

Oh happy, who by liquid streams
In shady gardens can retire,

XIII.

Where murmuring falls and whispering trees
Sweet slumber to invite conspire;

XIV.

Or where he may deceive the time
With volume sage, or pensive lyre.


IV.

AUTUMN.

I.

Thine, Autumn, is unwelcome lore—
To tell the world its pomp is o’er:

II.

To whisper in the rose’s ear
That all her beauty is no more;

III.

And bid her own the faith how vain,
Which Spring to her so lately swore.

IV.

A queen deposed, she quits her state;
The nightingales her fall deplore:

V.

The hundred-voicèd bird may woo
The thousand-leavèd flower no more.

VI.

The jasmine sinks its head in shame,
The sharp east wind its tresses shore;

VII.

And robbed in passing cruelly
The tulip of the crown it wore.

VIII.

The lily’s sword is broken now,
That was so bright and keen before;

IX.

And not a blast can blow, but strews
With leaf of gold the earth’s dank floor.

X.

The piping winds sing Nature’s dirge
As through the forest bleak they roar,

XI.

Whose leafy screen, like locks of eld,
Each day shows scantier than before.

XII.

Thou fadest as a flower, O man!
Of food for musing here is store.

XIII.

O man! thou fallest as a leaf:
Pace thoughtfully earth’s leaf-strewn floor;

XIV.

Welcome the sadness of the time,
And lay to heart this natural lore.



MOSES AND JETHRO.


When Moses once on Horeb’s rocky steep,
A banished man, was keeping Jethro’s sheep,
What time his flocks along the hills and dells
Made music with their bleatings and their bells,
He by the thoughts that stirred within him, drawn
Deep in the mountain, heard at early dawn
One who in prayer did all his soul outpour,
With deep heart-earnestness, but nothing more.
For strange his words were, savage and uncouth,
And little did he know in very sooth
Of that great Lord, to whom his vows were made.
The other for a moment listening staid,
Until, his patience altogether spent—
“Good friend, for whom are these same noises meant?
For him, who dwells on high? this babbling vain,
Which vexes even a man’s ear with pain?
Oh, stop thy mouth—thou dost but heap up sin,
Such prayer as this can no acceptance win,
But were enough to make God’s blessings cease.”
Rebuked, the simple herdsman held his peace,
And only crying—“Thou hast rent my heart,”
He fled into the desert far apart:
While with himself, and with his zeal content,
His steps the Son of Amram homeward bent,
And ever to himself applauses lent—
Much wondering that he did not find the same
From his adopted sire, but rather blame,
Who having heard, replied—

                          “Was this well done?
What wouldst thou have to answer, O my son,
If God should say in anger unto thee—
‘Why hast thou driven my worshipper from me,
Why hast thou robbed me of my dues of prayer?
Well pleasing offering in my sight they were,
And music in mine ears, if not in thine’—
He doth its bounds to every soul assign,
Its voice, its language—using which to tell
His praise, he counts that it doth praise him well;
And when there is a knocking at heaven’s gate,
And at its threshold many suppliants wait,
Then simple Love will often enter in,
While haughty Science may no entrance win.
Thus while his words were rougher husks than thine,
They yet might keep a kernel more divine,—
Rude vessel guarding a more precious wine.

  “_All_ prayer is childlike—falls as short of HIM
The wisdom of the wisest Seraphim,
As the child’s small conceit of heavenly things;
A line to sound his depths no creature brings.
Before the Infinite, the One, the All,
Must every difference disappear and fall,
There is no wise nor simple, great nor small.
For him the little clod of common earth
Has to the diamond no inferior worth;
Nor doth the Ocean, world-encompassing,
Unto his thought more sense of vastness bring
Than tiny dew-drop—atoms in his eye
A sun, and a sun-mote, dance equally:
Not that the great (here understand aright)
Is worthless as the little in his sight,
Rather the little precious as the great,
And, pondered in his scales, of equal weight:
So that herein lies comfort—not despair,
As though we were too little for his care.

  “God is so great, there can be nothing small
To him—so loving he embraces all,—
So wise, the wisdom and simplicity
Of man for him must on a level be:
But while all this, more prompt to feel the wrong,
And to resent it with displeasure strong,
When from him there is rudely, proudly turned
The meanest soul that loved him, and that yearned
After his grace—oh, haste then and begone,
Rebuild the altar thou hast overthrown;
Replace the offering which on that did stand,
Till rudely scattered by thy hasty hand—
Removing, if thou canst, what made it rise
A faulty and imperfect sacrifice.
And henceforth, in this gloomy world and dark,
Prize every taper yielding faintest spark,
And if perchance it burn not clear and bright,
Snuff, if thou canst, but do not quench it quite.”



PROVERBS

TURKISH AND PERSIAN.


I.

All skirts extended of thy mantle hold,
When angel hands from heav’n are scattering gold.


II.

Sects seventy-two, they say, the world infest,
And each and all lie hidden in thy breast.


III.

One staff of Moses, slight as it appears,
Aye breaks in shivers Pharaoh’s thousand spears.


IV.

Forget not Death, O man! for thou mayst be
Of one thing certain,—he forgets not thee.


V.

Speaks one of good which falls not to thy lot,
He also speaks of ill which thou hast not.


VI.

Boast not thy service rendered to the King,
’Tis grace enough he lets thee service bring.


VII.

Lies once thy cart in quagmire overthrown,
Thy path to thee by thousands will be shown.


VIII.

Oh square thyself for use—a stone that may
Fit in the wall, is left not in the way.


IX.

Never the game has happy issue won,
Which with the cotton has the fire begun.


X.

The world’s great wheel in silence circles round,
An housewife’s spindle with unceasing sound.


XI.

Who doth the raven for a guide invite,
Must marvel not on carcases to light.


XII.

The king but with one apple maketh free,
And straight his servants have cut down the tree.


XIII.

Two friends will in a needle’s eye repose,
But the whole world is narrow for two foes.


XIV.

Rejoice not when thine enemy doth die,
Thou hast not won immortal life thereby.


XV.

Be bold to bring forth fruit—though stick and stone
At the fruit-bearing trees are flung alone.


XVI.

All things that live from God their sustenance wait,
And sun and moon are beggars at his gate.


XVII.

While in thy lips thy words thou dost confine,
Thou art their lord—once uttered, they are thine.


XVIII.

Boldly thy bread upon the waters throw,
And if the fishes do not, God will know.


XIX.

What will not time and toil—? through these a worm
Will into silk a mulberry leaf transform.


XX.

When what thou willest has befall’n not, still
This help remains, what has befall’n to will.


XXI.

The lily with ten tongues can hold its peace;
Wilt thou with one from babbling never cease?


XXII.

How shall the praise of silence best be told?
To speak is silver, to hold peace is gold.


XXIII.

Thy word unspoken thou canst any day
Speak, but thy spoken ne’er again unsay.


XXIV.

O babbler, couldst thou but the cause divine
Why one tongue only, but two ears are thine!


XXV.

What mystic roses in thy breast will blow,
If on the wind their leaves thou straightway strow!



The good that one man flings aside
That in his discontent and pride
He treads on, and rejects no less.
Out of his count of happiness,
Another wiser, even from this
Would build an edifice of bliss,
For whose fair shelter he would pay
Glad offerings of praise alway.

  This truth a Sage had need to learn—
This we may by his aid discern
Who once, reduced to last distress,
Was culling a few herbs to dress,
With these his hunger to allay;
And flinging, as he went his way,
The coarse and outer leaves aside,
With rising discontent he cried,
“I marvel if at all there be
A wretch so destitute as me
The wide world over.”—This he said,
And turning (not by chance) his head,
Behind him saw another sage,
Whom a like office did engage,
Who followed with weak steps behind,
Seeking, like him, a meal to find,
But who, with anxious quest and pain,
To gather up the leaves was fain,
By him rejected with disdain.

  Nor other lesson he would teach,
The Poet in his Persian speech,
Who tells how through the desert he
Was toiling once, how painfully!
While his unsandalled naked feet
Were scorched and blistered by the heat
Of fiery sands—and harsh and hard
He did his destiny regard;
And evil thoughts did in him stir,
That he, a faithful worshipper,
A pilgrim to God’s holy fane,
Should such necessities sustain.
Nor did a better mood succeed,
With glad endurance of his need,
Nor saw he what of sin was pent
In murmuring heart and malcontent,
Till entering a low chapel, there
One prostrate on his face in prayer
He marked, and unto him espied
Not shoes alone, but feet denied.



LOVE.


I.

Love is it, Love divine, that hath an impulse lent
To man, and beast, and worm, and every element.


II.

All riddles Love can solve, all mysteries unfold;
Ask what thou wilt, and Love the answer will present.


III.

I asked the circling heavens why they so swiftly moved:
Round Love’s eternal throne they ever wheeling went.


IV.

I asked the waves what made their murmurs never cease:
Shall we in Love’s great hymn with silence be content?


V.

I asked the bickering fire when it would climb no more:
When with the fire above in Love’s communion blent.


VI.

Night asked I why she hung the world with darkness round:
To consecrate the world for Love a bridal tent.


VII.

I asked the Westwind why it breathed so soft and warm:
All roses to unfold for Love the Westwind meant.


VIII.

I sought for some escape from the labyrinth of Love;
And found my bliss was there to be for ever pent.


IX.

O soul, that until now hast sullenly refused
Thy portion in Love’s joy, O sullen heart, relent;


X.

Oh! see Love’s mighty dance, oh! hear its choral hymn;
Stand up—in dance and hymn to take thy part consent.



THE FALCON.


I.

High didst thou once in honour stand,
The falcon on a Prince’s hand:


II.

Thine eye, unhooded and unsealed,
All depths of being pierced and scanned:


III.

All worlds of space, from end to end,
Thy never-wearied pinion spanned.


IV.

O falcon of the spiritual heaven—
Entangled in an earthly band,


V.

While all too eagerly thy prey
Pursuing in a lower land—


VI.

In hope abide;—thy Monarch yet
For thy release shall give command,


VII.

And bid thee to resume again
Thy place upon thy Monarch’s hand.



LIFE THROUGH DEATH.


I.

A pagan King tormented fiercely all
Who would not on his senseless idols call,
Nor worship them:—and him were brought before,
A mother and her child, with many more.
The child, fast bound, was flung into the flame,
Her faith the mother did in fear disclaim:
But when she cried—“O sweetest! live as I,”
He answered—“Mother dear, I do not die;
Come, mother, bliss of heaven is here my gain,
Although I seem to you in fiery pain.
This fire serves only for your eyes to cheat,
Like Jesus’ breath of balm ’tis cool and sweet.
Come—learn what riches with our God are stored,
And how he feeds me at the angelic board.
Come, prove this fire—like water-floods it cools,
While your world’s water burns like sulphur pools.
Come—Abraham’s secret, when he found alone
Sweet roses in the furnace, here is known.
Into a world of death thou barest me,
O mother, death, not life, I owed to thee.
Fair world I deemed it once of glorious pride,
Till in this furnace I was deified;
But now I know it for a dungeon-tomb,
Since God has brought me into larger room.
Oh! now at length I live—from my pure heaven
Each cloud, that stained it once, away is driven:
Come, mother, come, and with thee many bring;
Cry, ‘Here is spread the banquet of the King;’
Come, all ye faithful—come, and dare to prove
The bitter-sweet, the pain and bliss of love.”

  So cried the child unto that crowd of men;
All hearts with fiery longings kindled then;
Towàrd the pile they headlong rushing came,
And soon their souls fed sweetly on the flame.


II.

A dew-drop falling on the wild sea wave,
Exclaimed in fear—“I perish in this grave;”
But in a shell received, that drop of dew
Unto a pearl of marvellous beauty grew;
And, happy now, the grace did magnify
Which thrust it forth—as it had feared, to die;—
Until again, “I perish quite,” it said,
Torn by rude diver from its ocean bed:
O unbelieving!—so it came to gleam
Chief jewel in a Monarch’s diadem.


III.

The seed must die, before the corn appears
Out of the ground, in blade and fruitful ears.
Low must those ears by sickle’s edge be lain,
Ere thou canst treasure up the golden grain.
The grain is crushed, before the bread is made,
And the bread broke, ere life to man conveyed.
Oh! be content to die, to be laid low,
And to be crushed, and to be broken so;
If thou upon God’s table may’st be bread,
Life-giving food for souls an-hungerèd.



THE WORLD.


“O beauteous world! what features fair
Thine needs would show beyond compare,
If it were possible to find
Thy glories all in one combined!
Show me, O Lord, the world—the bright
Fair world reveal unto my sight.”

  This prayer the youth had made, whose way
Soon after through the desert lay,
Where he far off a woman spied,
Wandering, by none accompanied.
“Who art thou?” he exclaimed.—“In me
See her whom thou hast longed to see.”
—“What meanest thou?” More plain reply
This time she made—“The world am I.”
—“Then let me see thy countenance fair,
Which doth so many hearts ensnare.”
She from her face the veil withdrew,
And straight the hidden was in view,
A visage painted all and bleared,
Where signs of lust and hate appeared:
One bloody hand she raised on high,
Crooked was the other and awry.
“How? what is this?” he shuddering
Exclaimed—“Who art thou, loathsome thing?”
“I with this bloody hand,” she said,
“Do ever strike my lovers dead:
The other hand its shape has won
With beckoning yet more lovers on;
Those ever hurl I forth with might,
And these with flatteries I invite.
Even I admire, while thus I show,
I never lack of lovers know.”
—“But tell me yet, how this may be,
That when such thousands wait on thee
Already, thou dost ever seek
More lovers still?” She then did speak:
“Though these are thousands, never yet
A man among them have I met;
Who rightly bear of man the name,
My company avoid like shame;
And thus remain I desolate,
Even while on me such thousands wait.”

  My brother, let her answer be
Deep graven on thy memory:
A man, my brother, wouldst thou prove,
Far keep thee from this woman’s love.



THE MONK AND SINNER.


In days of old, when holy Prophets trod
This earth, the living oracles of God,
What time one such his mission did fulfil,
There lived a youth, a prodigy of ill:
So foul the tablets of his heart and black,
That Satan’s self from them had started back.
Him as the plague sought every soul to shun,
At him in horror pointed every one;
And in the city, where this sinful youth
All bosoms filled with horror or with ruth,
In the same city dwelt a Monk as well,
Round whom all crowded when he left his cell.
Great name for prayer and penance he had gained,
And he one day that Prophet entertained:
When in their sight this sinner did appear,
Who yet for awe presumed not to draw near,
But falling back, like moth from stunning light,
Lay on the ground, as blinded by their sight.
And as in spring relents the frozen ground,
Even so it seemed as though his heart unbound,
Streamed from his eyes like loosened floods the tears:
“Woe’s me,” he cried; “for thirty guilty years—
My life’s best treasure have I spent in vain,
And death and hell are now my only gain.
I totter on a dark chasm’s dreadful brink,
Hell’s jaws are yawning for me, and I sink:
Yet since none ever thou didst from thee cast,
I stretch my hands to thee; Lord, hold them fast.”

  But here the Monk with lifted eyebrows—“Peace,
Blasphemer,—from thy useless clamors cease:
And darest thou, thus steeped in sin, make free
With him, God’s holy Prophet, and with me?
My God, this one thing grant me, that I may
Stand far from this man on the judgment day.”—
More he had said, but on the Prophet broke
Swift inspiration, and he straightway spoke:
“Two here have prayed—diverse has been their prayer,
Yet granted both their supplications are.
He who in mire of sin now thirty years
Has rolled, forgiveness asks with many tears:
Ne’er yet his head has contrite sinner lain
Upon the threshold of God’s throne in vain.
All he has sinned to him shall be forgiven,
Whom God has chose a denizen of heaven.
That monk has prayed upon the other hand
That he may never near this sinner stand;
That this may be so, hell his place must be,
Where never more this sinner he shall see.
Whose robe is white, but heart is black with pride,
He for himself hell’s gate has opened wide,
For weighed in God the All-sufficient’s scale,
Not claims nor righteousness of man avail;
But these are costly in his sight indeed,—
Repentance, poverty, and sense of need.”



I.

What, thou askest, is the heaven, and the round earth and the sea,
And their dwellers, men and angels,—if with God compared they be?


II.

Heaven and earth, and men and angels, all that anywhere is named,
Matched with him, lose name and being, and to nothing shrink ashamed.


III.

So ’tis seen when this world’s Sultan in his glory forth doth ride,
Highest, lowest, beggars, Emirs, all alike their faces hide.


IV.

Its unnumbered billows rolling, great to thee the Ocean seems;
Great the Sun, from golden fountains pouring out a flood of beams:


V.

Yet the faithful, God-enlightened, know another wonderland,
Where the Ocean is a dew-drop, and the Sun a grain of sand.


VI.

In the forest’s dark recesses hast thou marked the glow-worm’s light,
In a green dell unbeholden, twinkling through the storm and night?


VII.

Once a pilgrim said—“O gentle star, that shinest nightly, say,
Why dost thou appear not ever in the bright and sunny day?”


VIII.

Hear what then the gentle glow-worm answered from its mouth of fire,—
“In the gloomy forest shine I, but before the sun expire.”



THE SUPPLIANT.


All night the lonely suppliant prayed,
All night his earnest crying made,
Till standing by his side at morn,
The Tempter said in bitter scorn,
“Oh! peace:—what profit do you gain
From empty words and babblings vain?
‘Come, Lord—oh, come!’ you cry alway;
You pour your heart out night and day;
Yet still no murmur of reply,—
No voice that answers, ‘Here am I.’”

Then sank that stricken heart in dust,
That word had withered all its trust;
No strength retained it now to pray,
While Faith and Hope had fled away
And ill that mourner now had fared,
Thus by the Tempter’s art ensnared,
But that at length beside his bed
His sorrowing Angel stood, and said,—
“Doth it repent thee of thy love,
That never now is heard above
Thy prayer, that now not any more
It knocks at heaven’s gate as before?”

—“I am cast out—I find no place,
No hearing at the throne of grace.
‘Come, Lord—oh, come!’ I cry alway,
I pour my heart out night and day,
Yet never until now have won
The answer,—‘Here am I, my son.’”

—“Oh, dull of heart! enclosed doth lie,
In each ‘Come, Lord,’ an ‘Here am I.’
Thy love, thy longing, are not thine—
Reflections of a love divine:
Thy very prayer to thee was given,
Itself a messenger from heaven.
Whom God rejects, they are not so;
Strong bands are round them in their woe;
Their hearts are bound with bands of brass,
That sigh or crying cannot pass.
All treasures did the Lord impart
To Pharaoh, save a contrite heart:
All other gifts unto his foes
He freely gives, nor grudging knows;
But Love’s sweet smart, and costly pain,
A treasure for his friends remain.”



THE PANTHEIST;

OR,

THE ORIGIN OF EVIL.


One who in subtle questions took delight
Came running to my lodging late one night,
And straight began:—“Wilt thou affirm that sin
Had in man’s will its root and origin,
When that will did itself from God proceed?
Whate’er then followed, he must have decreed.
If evil, then, be not against God’s will,
’Tis wrongly named, it is not truly ill.
Rather the world a chess-board we should name,
And God both sides is playing of the game:
Moses and Pharaoh _seem_ opposed, for they
Do thus God’s greatness on two sides display;
They seem opposed, but at the root are one,
And each his part allotted has well done;
And that which men so blindly evil call,
And hate and fear and shun, is, after all,
Only as those discordant notes whereby
Well-skilled musicians heighten melody;—
But as the dark ground cunning painters lay,
To bring the bright hues into clearer day:
’Tis good, as yet imperfect, incomplete—
Fruit that is sour, while passing on to sweet.”

  Then I, who knew the world had travelled o’er
This line of thought a thousand times before,
Would all debate have willingly put by,
Yet with this tale at last must make reply:—
“The head of Seid his comrade struck one day—
Seid meant the blow in earnest to repay;
But then the striker—‘Pardon, friend, the blow—
I am inquiring, and two things would know:
See, when my hand did on your head alight,
Straight various bruises there appeared in sight.
Now, prithee, give me a reply to this,
If head or hand their ultimate cause is?
And if you really do with them agree
Who but in pain a lesser pleasure see?’
Seid then—‘O fool! my agony is great,
And think’st thou I can idly speculate?’”
“The same I say;—let him display his skill
On the world’s woe, who does not feel its ill;
Let speculate the man who feels no pain,
To whom the world is all a pageant vain—
An empty show, stretched out that he may sit,
And crying ‘Fie!’ or ‘Bravo!’ show his wit.
Me the deep feeling of its mighty woe
Robs of all wish herein my skill to show;
I only know that evil is no dream—
A thing that is, and does not merely seem:
Nor ask I now who open left the well,
Whereinto, walking carelessly, I fell;
Not how I stumbled in the well, but how
I may get out, is all my question now.”



GHAZEL.


I.

What is the good man and the wise?
Ofttimes a pearl which none doth prize;


II.

Or jewel rare, which men account
A common pebble, and despise.


III.

Set forth upon the world’s bazaar,
It mildly gleams, but no one buys,


IV.

Till it in anger Heaven withdraws
From the world’s undiscerning eyes:


V.

And in its shell the pearl again,
And in its mine the jewel lies.



THE RIGHTEOUS OF THE WORLD.


The Rabbis, who devise strange dooms of wrath and ill,
For them who knew not here God’s perfect law and will,
Yet these have told how they, as many as with true
And faithful heart fulfilled and loved the good they knew,
The Righteous of the world shall once delivered be
From darkness, and brought in God’s countenance to see:
Which thing they thus recount:—It shall befall one day
In those eternal courts where it is day alway,
Before him will the Just sit ranged in order meet,
The holy Angels all will stand upon their feet,
And while they hymn the praise, the glory and the worth
Of him who by a word created heaven and earth,
Will ever high and higher be borne and swept along
Heaven’s azure-vaulted roofs the full concent of song:
Then will that mighty voice of jubilee be heard,
Until from end to end the spacious world is stirred,
Until even those that lie excluded from his face,
The Righteous of the world who knew not of his grace
And law, while living—now will triumph in his name,
And with their loud Amen will join the glad acclaim.

Then he who knoweth all, yet purposing to show
His goodness, will demand from whence these voices grow.
The ministering angels then will answer and will say,
The while they veil for awe their faces—“These are they
Who did not know thy law while living, and for this
They lie in hell remote from glory and from bliss;
They cry Amen from thence.”—But he will of his grace
Compassion take on them and on their mournful case,
Will give the golden key from heaven’s crystal floors,
Which opens with a touch hell’s forty thousand doors,
To Michael, mighty prince:—but he will fly amain,
On mercy’s errand swift, with all the angelic train.
Hell’s forty thousand gates will open at his word,
Its narrow chambers deep with expectation stirred.
And as a man draws up his neighbour from a pit,
When he shall have therein through evil hap alit,
The prisoners he will draw from dungeons where they lay,
And extricating lift from the deep and miry clay,—
Will wash and cleanse their wounds where they have plaguèd been,
And clothe in garments white, and beautiful and clean;
And taking by the hand, will lead them to the gate
Of Paradise, where they must for a moment wait.
Till there with leave brought in, they fall upon their face,
And worship God, and praise and magnify his grace:
While all that had before their places round the throne,
Will give new thanks for this new mercy he has shown,
And by new voices swelled, and higher and more strong,
Ring through the vaults of heaven the full concent of song.



MAXIMS.


I.

“Who truly strives?” they asked.—Then one replied,
“The man who owns no other goal, beside
The throne of God, and till he there arrives
Allows himself no rest, he truly strives.”


II.

Honour each thing for that it once may be,
In bud the rose, in egg the chicken see:
Bright butterfly behold in hideous worm,
And trust that man enfolds an angel form.


III.

Aye let humility thy garment be,
Which never suffer to be drawn from thee,
Although a Chosroes’ mantle in its stead
By Fortune’s hand to thee were offerèd.


IV.

A pebble thrown into the mighty sea
Sinks and disturbs not its tranquillity—
No ocean, but a shallow pool, the man,
Whom every little wrong disquiet can.


V.

THE TRUE FRIEND.

He is a friend who, treated as a foe,
Now even more friendly than before doth show:
Who to his brother still remains a shield,
Although a sword for him his brother wield;
Who of the very stones against him cast,
Builds friendship’s altar higher and more fast.


VI.

PRIDE.

With needle’s point more easily you will
Uproot and quite unfasten a huge hill,
Than from the bosom you will dig up pride;
And the ant’s footfall sooner is descried,
On black earth moving in the darkest night,
Than are pride’s secret movements brought to light.



THE FALCON’S REWARD.


I.

Beneath the fiery cope of middle day
  The youthful Prince, his train left all behind
With eager ken gazed round him every way,
  If springing well he anywhere might find.


II.

His favourite falcon, from long aëry flight
  Returning, and from quarry struck at last,
Told of the chase, which with its keen delight
  Had thus allured him on so far and fast,—


III.

Till gladly he had welcomed in his drought
  The dullest pool that gathered in the rain—
But such, or fount of clearer wave, he sought
  Long through that land of barrenness in vain.


IV.

What pleasure when, slow stealing o’er a rock,
  He spied the glittering of a little rill,
Which yet, as if his burning thirst to mock,
  Did its rare treasures drop by drop distil.


V.

A golden goblet from his saddle-bow
  He loosed, and from his steed alighted down,
To wait until that fountain, trickling slow,
  Shall in the end his golden goblet crown.


VI.

When set beside the promise of that draught,
  How poor had seemed to him the costliest wine,
That ever with its beaded bubbles laughed,—
  When set beside that nectar more divine.


VII.

The brimming vessel to his lips at last
  He raised, when, lo! the falcon on his hand,
With beak’s and pinion’s sudden impulse, cast
  That cup’s rare treasure all upon the sand.


VIII.

Long was it ere that fountain, pulsing slow,
  Caused once again that chalice to run o’er;
When, thinking no like hindrance now to know,
  He raised it to his parchèd lips once more:


IX.

Once more, as if to cross his purpose bent,
  The watchful bird,—as if on this one thing,
That drink he should not of that stream, intent,—
  Struck from his hand the cup with eager wing.


X.

But when this new defeat his purpose found,
  Swift penalty this time the bird must pay;
Hurled down with angry force upon the ground,
  Before her master’s feet in death she lay:


XI.

And he, twice baffled, did meanwhile again
  From that scant rill to slake his thirst prepare;
When, down the crags descending, of his train
  One cried, “O Monarch, for thy life forbear!


XII.

“Coiled in these waters at their fountain head,
  And causing them so feebly to distil,
A poisonous snake of hugest growth lies dead,
  And doth with venom all the streamlet fill.”


XIII.

Dropped from his hand the cup;—one look he cast
  Upon the faithful bird before his feet,
Whose dying struggles now were almost past,
  For whom a better guerdon had been meet;


XIV.

Then homeward rode in silence many a mile:—
  But if such thoughts did in his bosom grow,
As did in mine the painfulness beguile
  Of that his falcon’s end, what man can know?


XV.

I said, “Such chalices the world fills up
  For us, and bright and without bale they seem—
A sparkling potion in a jewelled cup,
  Nor know we drawn from what infected stream.


XVI.

“Our spirit’s thirst they promise to assuage,
  And we those cups unto our death had quaffed,
If Heaven did not in dearest love engage
  To dash the chalice down, and mar the draught.


XVII.

“Alas for us, if we that love are fain
  With wrath and blind impatience to repay,
Which nothing but our weakness doth restrain,—
  As he repaid his faithful bird that day;


XVIII.

“If an indignant eye we lift above,
  To lose some sparkling goblet ill content,
Which, but for that keen watchfulness of love,
  Swift certain poison through our veins had sent.”



THE CONVERSION OF ABRAHAM.


Fond heart, when learnest thou to say,
I love not pomps that fade away,
Nor glories that decay and wane,
Nor lights that rise to set again?
When wilt thou turn where Abraham turned,
And learn the lesson Abraham learned?
Beyond the river while he dwelt,
He with his kin to idols knelt,
And nightly gazing on the sky,
Worshipped the starry host on high.
But when he saw their splendours fail,
And that bright multitude grow pale,
He left them, and adored the moon;
But she too wanly wanèd soon.
Baffled, he knelt unto the sun;
But when _his_ race of light was done,
He cried, “To such no vows I bring—
I worship not the perishing!”
And turned him to the God, whose hand
Made sun, and moon, and starry band—
An everlasting Light, in whom
Decrease and shadow find no room.



SONNET.


What child of dust with glory was arrayed
Like Solomon?—his bidding, while he stood
In his obedience and first state of good,
The upper and the under worlds obeyed—
All spirits, good and evil; yea, he made
Hell’s concourse and involuntary brood
Do drudging work for him—hew stones, bring wood,
And in the rearing of God’s temple aid.
But when he fell from God, the self-same hour
They fell from him—against him dared to turn,
Defied his might, his ring, his seal of power;
Made him the subject of their mock and scorn;
While before them he now must crouch and cower,
Of strength and wisdom, as of goodness, shorn.



THE DEAD DOG.


For the man whose heart and eye
Are made wise by charity,
Something will appear always
That may have his honest praise;
There will glimmer points of light
In the darkest, saddest night.
Thus a crowd once gathered round
The dead carcase of an hound;
Flung upon the open way,
In the market-place it lay;
And the idle multitude,
Vulture-like, around it stood,
One exclaiming, “I declare
That he poisons quite the air:”
But the next, “He is not worth
Pains of putting under earth;”
And against the poor dead thing
Each in turn his stone must fling:
Till one wiser passing by,
Just exclaimed, while eagerly
They were venting each his spite,—
“See his teeth, how pearly white!”
Straight the others, with self-blame,
Shrunk away in silent shame.



I.

Fair vessel hast thou seen with honey filled,
  Which is no sooner opened, than descend
Upon the clammy sweets by bees distilled
  A troop of flies, quick swarming without end?


II.

Yet these when one doth fan away and beat,
  Such as had lighted with a fearful care
On the jar’s edge, nor cumbered wings and feet,
  Lightly they mount into the upper air.


III.

But all that headlong plunged those sweets among,
  No flight is theirs, in cloying sweetness bound;
The heavy toils have all around them clung,
  In woful surfeiting their lives are drowned.


IV.

Such vessel is this world—fanned evermore
  By death’s dark Angel with his mighty wing;
Then all that had in pleasure’s honied store
  Their spirits sunk, they upward cannot spring.


V.

Only they mount who, on this vessel’s side
  With heed alighting, had with extreme lip
Just ventured, there while suffered to abide,
  Its sweets in measure and with fear to sip.



FRAGMENTS.


I.

THE CERTAINTY OF FAITH.

What thou of God and of thyself dost know,
So know that none can force thee to forego;
For oh! his knowledge is a worthless art,
Which, while it forms not of himself a part,
The foremost man he meets with readier skill
In sleight of words, can rob him of at will.
Faith feels not of _her_ lore more sure nor less,
If all the world deny it or confess:
Did the whole world exclaim, “Like Solomon,
Thou sittest high on Wisdom’s noblest throne,”
She would not, than before, be surer then,
Nor draw more courage from the assent of men.
Or did the whole world cry, “Oh, fond and vain!
What idle dream is this which haunts thy brain?”
To the whole world Faith boldly would reply,
“The whole world can, but I can never, lie.”


II.

MAN’S TWOFOLD NATURE.

An hen, though such tame creatures mostly are,
Yet once received a water-bird in care;
Its mother-instinct drew the fledgling still
To the wide ocean floods to roam at will;
Its timid nurse, upon the other hand,
Sought evermore to lead it back to land.
O Man! thy mother, Heaven, thy nurse is Earth,
And thou of both wert nurtured from thy birth;
From thy true mother comes thine impulse free
To launch forth boldly upon being’s sea;
While aye thy nurse fears for thee, and would fain
Thee to a narrow slip of dry restrain.


III.

SCIENCE AND LOVE.

Who that might watch the moon in heaven, would look
At its weak image in the water-brook?
Who were content, that might in presence stand
Of one beloved, with letters from his hand?
When thou hast learned the name, hast thou the thing?
What life to thee will definitions bring?
Will the four letters, R, O, S, and E,
The rose’s hues and fragrance bring to thee?
Feed not on husks, but these strip off and feed
On the rich kernel, which is food indeed.
Say, who of choice would wash in arid sand,
While limpid streams were bubbling close at hand?
Bare Science is dry sand;—thy spirit’s wings
Bathe thou in Love’s delicious water-springs.
Be thou the bee, which ever to its cell
Not wax alone, but honey brings as well:
Good is the wax for light, but better still
What will thine hive with storèd sweetness fill.


IV.

The business of the world is child’s play mere;
Too many, ah! the children playing here:
Their pleasure and their woe, their loss and gain,
Alike mean nothing, and alike are vain;
As children’s, who, to pass the time away,
Build up their booths, and buy and sell in play;
But homeward hungering must at eve repair,
And standing leave their booths with all their ware:
So the world’s children, when _their_ night is come,
With empty satchels turn them sadly home.


V.

Sage, that would’st maker of thine own God be,
When made, alas! what will he profit thee?
Most like art thou to children that astride
On reeds or wooden horses proudly ride;
And as they trail them on the ground, they cry,
“This is the lightning, and its Lord am I!”
Yet, while they deem their horses them upbear,
Themselves the bearers of their horses are;
And when they grow aweary of their course,
They find no strength in them, no help, no force.
How otherwise they fare—how fresh, how strong,
Not of themselves, but borne of God along!
How jubilant to him they lift their head,
Till the ninth heaven shakes underneath their tread!


VI.

Man, the caged bird that owned an higher nest,
Is here awhile detained, reluctant guest,
Who beak and plumage shatters in his rage,
And with his prison doth vain war engage:
For him the falcon watches, and his snare
The bloody fowler doth for him prepare.
Exiled from home, he here doth sadly sing,
In spring lacks autumn, and in autumn spring.
Far from his nest, he shivers on a wall,
Where blows on him of rude misfortune fall—
His head with weight of misery sore bowed down,
His pinion clogged with dust, his courage gone.
Then from his nest in heaven is heard a cry,
And straight he spreads his wings divine on high:
Lift him, O Lord, unto the Lotus tree,
No meaner pitch may with his birth agree;
Grant him a pinion of such lofty flight,
That he may on the Lotus tree alight:
In thy bright palaces his nest prepare;—
Oh, happy, happy bird that nesteth there!



NOTES

TO

THE POEMS FROM EASTERN SOURCES.


Page 3.

ALEXANDER AT THE GATES OF PARADISE.

See Eisenmenger’s “Entdecktes Judenthum,” v. ii. p. 321,
with whom I trust that my readers will not agree, for he has scarcely
patience to finish this “narrische Talmudische Fabel,” as he styles
it. It reappears, slightly modified, in the Persian tradition, according
to which Alexander, having conquered the world, determined
to seek out the fountain of life. See the following note. In
like manner, in the Christian poems of the middle ages, Alexander
is made to recognise at last the vanity and emptiness of all the
glory which he has won, and is hardly turned from his purpose of
going forth at last in search of the lost Paradise. See Rosenkranz
“Gesch. d. Deutschen Poesie in Mittelalter,” p. 367. Very
notable is this making of Alexander, and no other—the man from
whom the confession comes, that the world has not that which
can truly satisfy man’s spirit, but that he still yearns for something
beyond. It is like, in the Scripture, the same confession
coming from the lips of Solomon; for in each case the experiment
has been made under the most favourable circumstances: so that
in one case, as in the other, it may be asked, “What can the
man do that cometh after the king?”


P. 11.

CHIDHER’S WELL.

Of Chidher’s Well, the Eastern λουτρον παλιγγενεσιας, Von
Hammer, in his very interesting introduction to his “History of
Persian Poetry,” gives a good account. Among other things
he says, “Cotemporary with Moses lived the Prophet Chiser, of
whom some hold that he is the same with Elias, while others
altogether distinguish them. He is one of the chief personages of
Eastern Mythology, the ever-ready helper of the oppressed, the
Genius of spring, the deliverer in peril, the admonisher of princes,
the avenger of unrighteousness, the guide through the wilderness
of the world, and, finally, the ever-youthful guardian of the fountain
of life. As such he revives the youth of men, and beasts,
and plants, gives back lost beauty, and in spring arrays the dead
earth with its fresh garments of green. His fountain bestows on
whosoever drinks it eternal beauty, youth, and wisdom. What
wonder then that all mortals with burning desire seek it, though
as yet not one, not even Alexander, the conqueror of the world,
who, in quest of it, undertook an expedition into the land of darkness,
has found it!” Probably this, his journey through the land
of darkness, is but a mythic form of his expedition through the
Libyan desert to the temple of Jupiter Ammon.

On this poem I may observe, that it is the first of several in
the volume written with an arrangement of rhyme hardly familiar
to the English reader, which yet is that of a great part, as I
believe, of the lyric poetry of the East, and which may not, perhaps,
be unworthy of a place among us. According to the laws
of the Ghazel,—for poems in this metre are so entitled,—the two
first lines must rhyme, and then this rhyme repeats itself in the
second line of each succeeding couplet, which is, in fact, a new
stanza, till the end of the poem,—the termination of the first line
in each of these following couplets being left free. This single
rule of the one repeated rhyme being observed, the Ghazel admits
otherwise of the greatest possible variety; it may be composed, as
is this present, in short trochaics, in longer or shorter iambics, or,
in fact, in lines of whatsoever length or arrangement of syllables
the poet will. In Germany, the Ghazel has been perfectly
domesticated. Rückert and Count Platen are, I believe, considered
to have cultivated it with the greatest success.


P. 14.

THE BANISHED KINGS.

See Rükert’s “Brahmanische Erzählungen,” p. 5. I am not
aware whether the Parable is of his own constructing, or whether
it be, as the name of the volume would intimate, derived from an
Indian source.


P. 20.

THE SPILT PEARLS.

This story is from the Bustan of Saadi. See Tholuck’s
“Blüthensammlung aus der Morgenländischen Mystik,” p. 239.
With the moral of this story we may compare the memorable
words of St. Bernard, when of God he says, “Ipse retributor, ipse
retributio nostra, nec jam aliud quam ipsum expectamus ab ipso.”


P. 24.

THE BARMECIDES.

The anecdote on which this poem is founded is related by Sylvestre
de Sacy in his “Chrestomathie Arabe,” v. ii. See also
D’Herbelot’s “Bibliotheque Orientale,” s. v. Barmekian. For
the sake of those who are as ignorant as myself of the Eastern
languages I would remark, that “Al Raschid” is a title signifying
The Just.


P. 35.

THE FESTIVAL.

This story also is to be found in the “Chrestomathie Arabe”
(v. ii. p. 3) of Sylvestre de Sacy.


P. 41.

THE EASTERN NARCISSUS.

In the attempt made by the Neo-Platonists to put a new life
into the old Grecian Mythology, Narcissus falling in love with his
own image in the water-brook was made the symbol of man casting
himself forth into the world of shows and appearances, and expecting
to find the good that would answer to his nature there, but indeed
finding nothing but disappointment and death.—The fable is
Feridoddin Attar’s, who, born in 1216, perished in the invasion
of Dschengischan at the beginning of the next century. The
account of the manner in which he was converted to the life of
contemplative piety is remarkable. He was originally a rich merchant
of spices. A pious dervisch entered his warehouse and craved
an alms. Ferid bade him to be gone. The dervisch answered,
“That can I do easily, for I possess nothing save my hood; but
thou, with so many heavy sacks, how wilt thou contrive to be gone
when the hour of thy departure has arrived?” These words made
so deep an impression on Ferid, that, from that moment, he gave
up his worldly strivings, and dedicated himself to the spiritual
life.


P. 55.

MOSES AND JETHRO.

This story is one among the many remarkable extracts which
Tholuck, in his “Blüthensammlung aus d. Morg. Myst.,” has
given (p. 128) from the poems of the chief of the mystical writers
of Persia, Dschelaleddin Rumi. In his treating of the subject,
however, that indifference to all positive religion, and all fixed
forms and outlines of truth, which is the very essence of the
Mystic, comes so strongly out, that I have been obliged to write
the story anew, seeking to bring out that which is really its valuable
part—that truth which a great Christian writer expressed when
he said, “Sæpe amor intrat, ubi scientia foris stat.”


P. 64.

_The good that one man flings aside._

I must acknowledge that I have only assumed from internal
evidence, that this story of the Sage gathering herbs is of Eastern
origin, owing it myself to Calderon, who introduces it in his famous
drama, “La Vida es Sueño.” The second incident of the rebuke
which the pilgrim through the desert met with for his unthankfulness
and discontent is related by Saadi in his “Rosarium,” and
he tells it as having come upon himself.


P. 71.

LIFE THROUGH DEATH.

See Tholuck’s “Blüthensammlung &c.” p. 69. There can be no
doubt that the poet has a deeper meaning than lies on the surface:
the furnace is that of self-denial, which the natural man thinks will
be death, but which, if he dares to prove, he finds to be life. Being
willing to lose his life, he finds it.

In relation to v. 12, it may be needful to observe, that the
Mahomedans believe it was in the breath of Christ that the
healing virtue lay, by which his miraculous cures were effected.
It is a tradition alike Jewish and Mahomedan, that Abraham was
flung into the furnace by Nimrod, for refusing to worship his
false gods; whereupon the flames, instead of scorching and consuming,
were turned for him into a bed of jasmine and roses.


P. 74.

_The seed must die, before the corn appears._

Compare John xii. 24, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the
ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth
much fruit.”


P. 75.

THE WORLD.

See Von Hammer’s “Gesch. d. schönen Redekunst Persiens,”
p. 236.


P. 78.

THE MONK AND SINNER.

It is difficult not to be struck with the deep moral resemblance
which this story of Saadi’s bears to that related by St. Luke,
ch. vii. 36-50. We have here reproduced to us the Pharisee
and the woman that was a sinner, and all the deep relations of law
and grace; and a reference to the original, or at least _my_ original,
in Tholuck’s “Blüthensammlung &c.,” p. 251, will prove that
I have not sought to throw upon it any colouring which it did
not in itself already possess.


P. 81.

_What, thou askest, is the heaven_, &c.

See Tholuck’s “Blüthensammlung &c.,” p. 243.


P. 84.

THE SUPPLIANT.

See the same, p. 84. Even in the same spirit Augustine gives
the reason why no true prayer can be unheard by God:—“quoniam
ad ipsum redit, quod ab ipso processit.”


P. 87.

THE PANTHEIST.

The doctrine of evil as not indeed evil, but only an inferior
kind of good, to which the Pantheist is of necessity driven, is
wrought out with great skill and frequency by the Eastern Mystics—often
comes out in their writings in its most offensive shapes.
It is curious to notice how completely they have anticipated this
view, which continually reappears in the philosophical systems of
our own day, and is in them brought forward as some mighty discovery,
as a key to all the perplexities of the actual world. See
Tholuck’s “Saufismus,” p. 255, seq., and “Blüthensammlung
&c.,” pp. 133, 145.


P. 91.

THE RIGHTEOUS OF THE WORLD.

See Eisenmenger’s “Entdeckt. Judenthum,” v. ii. p. 362.


P. 96.

THE FALCON’S REWARD.

This story, at its root so similar to that of Beth Gellert, is told
in the “Calila and Dimna,” and I believe is to be found in many
other quarters.


P. 101.

THE CONVERSION OF ABRAHAM.

See D’Herbelot’s “Biblioth. Orient.” s. v. Abraham.


P. 103.

SONNET.

See Eisenmenger’s “Entdeckt. Judenthum,” v. i. p. 355.


P. 104.

THE DEAD DOG.

See Von Hammer’s “Gesch. d. schön. Redek. Persiens,” p. 108.


P. 106.

_Fair vessel hast thou seen with honey filled._

This poem is also from the “Calila and Dimna.” With the
main thought of it we may compare the beautiful lines of Prudentius:—

“Haud secus ac si olim per sudum lactea forte
Lapsa columbarum nubes descendat in arvum
Ruris frugiferi, laqueos ubi callidus auceps
Prætendit, lentoque illevit vimina visco;
Sparsit et insidias siliquis vel farre doloso.
Illiciunt alias fallentia grana, gulamque
Innectunt avidam tortæ retinacula setæ,
Molle vel implicitas gluten circumligat alas:
Ast aliæ, quas nullus amor prælectat edendi,
Gressibus innocuis sterili spatiantur in herba,
Suspectamque cavent oculos convertere ad escam.
Mox ubi jam cœlo revolandum, pars petit æthram
Libera sideream, plaudens super aëra pennis;
Pars captiva jacet, laceris et saucia plumis
Pugnat humi, et volucres nequicquam suspicit auras,
Sic animas,” &c.


P. 113.

_Man, the caged bird that owned an higher nest._

See Von Hammer’s “Gesch. d. schön. Redek. Persiens,” p. 389.



THE STEADFAST PRINCE.



NOTE.


The subject of the following Poem was first suggested to me by
Calderon’s noble drama, “El Principe Constante,” accessible not
only to the Spanish, but, through Schlegel’s admirable translation,
to the German scholar also: from it also I have derived the
name. I am, however, much more indebted to a Life of the
Prince, published at Berlin, 1827, which gives many original
documents connected with the unfortunate expedition to Africa,
and actual details of the captivity, and sufferings, and death of the
Prince;—a little volume which strikingly exemplifies how far
richer and deeper will oftentimes be the simple truth than any
fiction, since all that even so great a poet as Calderon has imagined
for the casting a glory round his Christian hero is weak and
poor compared with the simple reality;—which, however, I may
add, I have not so strictly followed but that I have felt myself at
liberty to alter and modify the details as best suited my purpose.

It may be of interest to the English reader to know how much
of English blood was in the veins of the Prince:—his mother,
Philippa, who married John the First of Portugal, was sister to
our fourth Henry.



THE STEADFAST PRINCE.

Only the best composed and worthiest hearts
God sets to act the hard’st and constant’st parts.—DANIEL.


PART I.

I.

Of all the princes that in lofty place
With lowly virtues did adornèd stand,
Whom better did these lowly virtues grace
Than all their worldly state, might none demand
A nobler mead of praise than Ferdinand,
Brother of him, whose sceptre ruled of old
Where Tagus pours its waves o’er sands of gold.

II.

His was no higher gladness than to tend
The poor, the needy, whom uncomforted
Not ever from his portals he would send,
Whom sick he watched beside contagious bed,
And whom an-hungered his large bounty fed;
While loving words made ever doubly prized
The gracious acts which he for all devised.

III.

And only was he rigid and severe
With his own self, his weak frame chastening still
With long-drawn fasts and discipline austere,
With vigils which the long night-watches fill:
Yet leaving not to seek all knightly skill
In lists of arms, arrayed in knightly weeds,
Against some coming day of martial deeds.

IV.

For like a clear flame in his bosom burned,
As on an holy altar, fiery zeal,
Though not for meeds of earthly fame he yearned,
Nor willingly for these had bared his steel;
But greatly longed some land that now did feel
The yoke of misbelieving men, once more
To his Redeemer’s kingdoms to restore.

V.

He, long confined unto unwelcome ease,
To see renewed his Father’s glories yearned,
Who with two hundred vessels crossed the seas,
And for himself a noble title earned,
As first, who to the infidels returned
The wrongs they wrought on Spain, and with high hand
Made Ceuta his, the key of all their land.

VI.

Oh day, when many a heart beat high and fast,
When his exultingly did bound and leap,
For that despaired of long was come at last,—
Once more a gallant host was on the deep,
And every vessel did its due course keep
For Afric, and at each prow unconfined
A Red-cross banner floated on the wind.

VII.

Far off, that fleet might seem a wandering troop
Of huge sea-monsters gambolling at will
Upon the topmost surge—or clouds that stoop
And lean on Ocean’s breast, themselves to fill
With water, which they back in rain distil,
Or flock of snow-white sea-birds, that expand
Huge never-wearied pinions, far from land.

VIII.

Or now he might that goodly sight compare,
Who saw it from afar, to forest vast
In motion, that did all its pines upbear—
They tossing their tall heads, as every mast
Now rose, now yielded to the unsteady blast;
Or now had deemed them, proudly thus advancing,
A city on the inconstant billows dancing.

IX.

Oh joy, when they by tempests unassailed
Set their firm feet upon the Libyan shore,
While loud and clear the holy hymn prevailed,
Which ofttimes heard in Palestine before,—
“The standards of the King advance,”—once more
Filled now the air, and seemed the prelude high
Of near success and certain victory.

X.

—Long were it and a mournful task to tell
How this fair dawn of triumph was defaced
With wrack of envious clouds, and how befell,
And by whose fault that with untimely haste
They were entangled in the desert waste;
Wherein they deeper day by day were led,
Still thinking that the foe before them fled:

XI.

Till when the scorching heat of Afric’s sun,
With alternating dews of chilly night,
And pain and travail had their office done,
And theirs already was an evil plight,
A dawning morning showed them every height
Crowned with innumerous hosts, that hemmed their way,
Then rushed to seize an unresisting prey.

XII.

Yet did not then that instant peril tame
The courage of that high heroic band:
The bold Crusaders, worthy that high name,
With dauntless front from morn to evening stand;
Although when darkness did at length command
Brief truce from arms, the boldest needs must own
That to retrace their steps remained alone.

XIII.

Back to their ships they wound in sad retreat,
Enveloped ever in a fiery cloud
Of dust and burning sand, which by their feet
Stirred, hung around them like a dismal shroud:
And choked by agony of thirst, they crowd
Round scanty desert wells, and thence in vain
Strive to assuage their fierce and torturing pain.

XIV.

The hopes of triumph now had quite departed,
But an austerer glory still remained,—
Still to abide mid failing hearts high-hearted;
And though the light that lit their path had waned,
And by no hope of victory sustained,
Still to do well, what still was to be done;—
The Prince amid defeat this glory won.

XV.

But ever as they drew the shore more near,
And as each ship received its willing freight,
The Moorish squadrons on their feeble rear
And their diminishing ranks with added weight,
With louder cries and more tumultuous hate
Thronged, pressing on more fiercely and more fast:
He who had been the first, was now the last.

XVI.

He fain the last would quit the hostile shore,
Who leaped the foremost on its fatal strand:
Around him throng the Moors, behind, before:
Of those true-hearted that beside him stand
Some fall in death—the noble Ferdinand,
(Skill courage and despair alike in vain,)
In the foe’s hands a captive must remain.

XVII.

—“Not in ignoble bondage, nor for long,
If Christian hearts can worth or valour prize,
O gallant Prince, shalt thou endure this wrong,
This unbeseeming yoke, which on thee lies;”
With such well-sounding gentle courtesies
The Mauritanian king him greeted fair,
When of his prisoner’s high estate aware.

XVIII.

“To-morrow a swift ship shall cleave the main,
Bearing this message to the Tagus’ shore,
That freedom shall to thee be given again,
If Ceuta will thy brother hold no more,
But unto us its rightful lords restore;
This for a brother will not be denied;
Meanwhile with me, my guest thou shalt abide.”

XIX.

Frank recognition of his grace the Prince
Rendered again—yet did not, when he heard
Of that so near deliverance, joy evince,
Nor of that ransom answered he a word:
Only it seemed some thought within him stirred,
That some large thought was stirring in his breast,
Which he had well-nigh spoke and then represt.

XX.

But now there waned not many moons, before
By favouring breezes wafted o’er the sea
They came, the prompt embassadors that bore
Large powers to set the princely captive free;
Whom at this cost did ransom willingly
His loving brother, and did only yearn
That he should hasten his desired return.

XXI.

And all seemed finished now, when “Hear me,” cried
The Prince—“Hear _me_, although a captive thrall;
Ye know that if my brother childless died,
Mine would be then the throne of Portugal:
While this is so, no power has he at all
Aught of its state to alienate or lose,
Unless with my consent, which I refuse.

XXII.

“Shall that fair city, on whose walls my Sire
With his own hands first planted the five shields
Of Portugal—shall Ceuta, glorious hire
Of labours long on stormy battle-fields,
Which o’er this land such broad dominion wields,
Be in a moment bartered for one poor
And worthless life? who would such thought endure?

XXIII.

“Its golden crosses glittering in the air,
Shall they give place to crescents foul and pale?
And for glad bells that call to Christian prayer,
The muezzin’s melancholy voice prevail,
Bidding to impious rites? and at the tail
Of horses shall our images divine
Be dragged?—to stables turned each sacred shrine?

XXIV.

“No—rather if just ransom thou for me,
Such as a faithful man can pay, refuse,
And for my partners in captivity,—
For I not any liberty will use,
In which they share not,—then I rather choose
Of this poor life whatever may remain,
Till death release, to spend in captive pain.”

XXV.

More he had said, but him the Moorish king
Not suffered to proceed—“And dost thou ween
To find captivity that easy thing,
Which by my grace it hitherto has been?
While thou in me this grace hast only seen,
Without thine harm thou thinkest to despoil
Us of the just reward of all our toil.

XXVI.

“Oh fool, to think I have no power nor will
To make thy bondage bitter unto thee—
That I with gall and wormwood cannot fill
Brimming the cup of thy captivity!
Thou art my slave—a slave’s lot thine shall be,
Labour and pains—and harder to be borne,
Insult and ignominy, stripes and scorn.

XXVII.

“But when sore laden with thy shameful task,
Of thy long bondage thou shalt weary be,
And when mid basest labours thou shalt ask
For pity, ask it of thyself—not me:
For thou dost in thine own hands hold the key
Of thine own prison—yield to me that place,
Else shalt thou vainly crave the poorest grace.

XXVIII.

“And ye, that did your bootless message bring,
Go back and say what sight these lands afford—
A Christian prince, the brother of your king,
Tending the horses of his Moorish lord.
Come and redeem him with the spear and sword,
If ye are willing once again to try
The welcome of our Moslem chivalry.”

XXIX.

By this from off his shoulders rudest men
Had torn his decent robes, and garmented
In prison-dress of coarsest serge, and then
Him to his task dishonourable led,
He nought resisting—only this he said,
“If that herein there be dishonour, thine
Is the dishonour and the shame, not mine.”

XXX.

And his companions each and all were borne
One way or other to some servile toil,
Mid blows and curses and tumultuous scorn,—
Whom all were free to buffet and to spoil,
Until they wet that cruel Afric soil
With mingled blood and tears, and scarcely thought
They would with life to that day’s end be brought:

XXXI.

So that when they were thrust in harshest wise
Into a noisome vault at that day’s close,
That noisome vault appeared a paradise,
Because it gave some shelter from the blows,
The taunts and insults of their cruel foes—
Because its bars and iron-strengthened gate
Rose strong between them and that clamorous hate.

XXXII.

But when there lacked not of their number one,
The Prince so joyed, as though he found reward
For all the suffering he that day had known:
Yet when a light permitted to regard
Their garments rent, swoln hands, and faces marred,
He, strong before all weakness to restrain,
Not any longer might from tears refrain.

XXXIII.

—“Dear friends, that I have dragged you down with me
Into this gulf of woe, this makes my smart,
That of this suffering and captivity
I may not for myself claim every part:
Oh this it is that causes my weak heart
To die within me;—tell me you forgive
Only this wrong, and I again shall live.”

XXXIV.

Nothing they spake—but of that faithful band
One after other rising from his place
Drew near, and knelt and kissed the Prince’s hand,
As though that hand dispersed all gifts and grace:
He raised and wound them in a strict embrace
One after other—“Brothers of my heart,
Henceforth for good or ill we never part.”

XXXV.

—“Oh wish us not then any more away,
Our dear, dear Lord—nor grudge to us our share
In this high suffering”—so they all did say—
“What could we wish more goodly or more fair,
Than that when men hereafter shall declare
Thy noble acts, that they should then as well
Of us thy servants and true comrades tell?”

XXXVI.

But he to them—“We know not what shall be,
Nor whither these things tend—if that we bore
To-day of outrage and indignity
Be but the first and least, and far, far more—
Yea, mortal suffering be for us in store;
Or if, when God awhile our faith has proved,
All suffering shall from us be then removed.

XXXVII.

“But He who knoweth that we hither came
Not in the lust of spoil, nor heat of pride,
Nor with the hope to win ourselves a name,
But the dear faith of Christ to spread more wide,
Can give us strength in patience to abide,
Till one way or another grief has end;
Then let us unto him our cause commend.”

XXXVIII.

What of the night remained, when thus the smart
Of their new bleeding wounds had been allayed
With the sweet balm of loving words, in part
Was spent in holy prayer; they knelt and made
Their supplications unto God for aid;
And then they did their weary eyelids close
In blest oblivion of all earthly woes.

XXXIX.

In dreams they wandered by familiar places
In their own land, unto their childhood dear;
And some were locked in loving, fond embraces,
And sweet the voices of their home and clear
Came to them;—pain was gone, and doubt and fear;
And all the dreary and the dread Between
Was gone, like aught which had not ever been.

XL.

What happy dreams, blest visions without number
Were scattered by their rude tormentors’ tone,
Snapping in twain the golden links of slumber!
Then each poor captive staggering rose, as one
From off whose heart there had been rolled a stone
A little moment—to return again
With added weight, a sense of hopeless pain.

XLI.

And this their mournful life continued long
Without a change, unless when some new day
Brought with it some new insult or new wrong,
Sharp taunt or scorn, which they might not gainsay
Nor seem to feel; which, if one did repay
With but an angry look, he then would find
That there was worse and keener wrong behind.

XLII.

But, oh! what gladness was it when they met,
The long day’s miserable task-work o’er,
In their dank vault, and shared the black bread set,
With water from the pools drawn, them before!
Then made they of that coarse and scanty store
A glorious meal, while love makes all things sweet,
And it is always joy, when brethren meet.

XLIII.

Yet oft the wantonness of fell despite
Would grudge them this poor respite of their woes;
And then harsh voices in the middle night,
Just as their leaden eyelids ’gan to close,
And their tired limbs were sinking to repose,
Would bid them forth, and task them to renew
The past day’s work, or merely to undo.

XLIV.

Yet amid all still kept his constant mind,
Not to be wearied out by toil or pain,
Or all which malice could of outrage find,
The steadfast Prince; on him were spent in vain
All shafts of malice—able to sustain
Not his own heart alone, but aye to speak
Strength to the fainting, courage to the weak.

XLV.

Yet if they cursed their foes, or wished them dead,
With gentle words, but firm, he would put down
Such evil thoughts:—“Shall we be angerèd
With them that help us to a martyr’s crown?
Shall we not rather our tormentors own
As scourges with which God doth scourge our sin,
And far unhappier than are we therein?

XLVI.

“Your curses cannot harm them, but can make
Of your own hearts a hell instead of heaven;
Its healing virtue from affliction take,
And mar all gracious ends for which ’twas given.
With mortal men ye gloriously have striven;
An harder task remains you—to oppose
Revenge, and scorn, and hate, far deadlier foes.”

XLVII.

Yet once, what time the others sleeping lay,
To one, an aged and faithful servant true,
Who, though he ’scaped that last disastrous day,
Yet when his lord’s captivity he knew,
To share his bondage and his sufferings flew,—
He once unto this faithful servant old
More of his inmost bosom did unfold:

XLVIII.

“To these, my poor companions, seem I strong,
And at some times such am I, as a rock
That has upstood in middle ocean long,
And braved the winds’ and waters’ angriest shock,
Counting their fury but an idle mock;
Yet sometimes weaker than the weakest wave
That dies about its base, when storms forget to rave.

XLIX.

“I from my God such strength have sometimes won,
That all the dark, dark future I am bold
To face;—but, oh! far otherwise anon,
When my heart sinks and sinks to depths untold,
Till Being seems no deeper depth to hold,
Unfathomed by the line of my despair;
And with my spirit so it now doth fare.

L.

“O God, that I had fall’n with them who fell
In that disastrous conflict by Tangiers!
Oh happy you, my brethren, ending well!
Oh, not to be lamented with such tears
As we, condemned to waste inglorious years
In this captivity, which shall extend,
Without release, unto life’s utmost end!

LI.

“Yet is not here the answer to my prayer?
For I remember when upon my nod
Men waited, and the world did speak me fair,
Then thinking on my Saviour and my God,
And on the thorny path of life he trod
With bleeding feet, deep shame possessed my heart,
That I should in his sufferings bear no part.

LII.

“And then in secret prayed I earnestly
That I might to some likeness with my Lord
Be brought—not courted, praised, and honoured be,
While he was scorned, and buffeted, and gored
With cruel wounds:—I knew my prayer was heard,
Though on what side affliction would appear,
I strove in vain to guess;—now all is clear.”



THE STEADFAST PRINCE.


PART II.

I.

What man shall say that he the deepest deep
Has reached, whereto misfortune may him bring?
That never from her fatal urn may leap
A lot inscribed with heavier suffering
Than that he knows? that now of everything
Which sweetens life, his life is stript so bare,
That worse with him henceforth it cannot fare?

II.

Not he, who had been hurled with impulse rude
Down from the honourable high estate
Wherein observed and reverenced once he stood;
He yet must be misfortune’s trustier mate—
Must lie exposed to keener shafts of fate:
He, knowing much of ill, must find that more,
Bitterer and sharper, is for him in store.

III.

For now his foes, by malice partly moved,
Because they saw it solaced him to share
All griefs and labours which the others proved;
And how that all, though oft they threatened were,
And punished for their deed, yet still would bear
To him all reverence and respect, and bring
Homage to him as to a crownèd king;—

IV.

And partly, for they dreaded lest his frame,
Which had been ever tender, weak, and frail,
And evidently weaker now became
With each succeeding day, should wholly fail,
Nor longer to sustain itself avail;—
Lest it should sink beneath its cruel toil,
And them of all their promised gain despoil,—

V.

They now denied him the sad liberty
To share whatever pains the others knew:
Shut in a narrow dungeon must he lie,
Shut from their fellowship and service true;
There he his resolution high may rue,
If ever ruth on high and noble deeds,
Whatever consequence they bring, succeeds.

VI.

Oh dreary months! months growing into years,
Which o’er their heads, bringing no respite, past;
And they must mingle still their drink with tears,
While fell upon them thicker and more fast
The shafts of anguish;—yet for him at last,
The noblest sufferer of this suffering band,
The hour of his deliverance was at hand.

VII.

For once, when they as usual passed before
His vault, and softly called him, no reply
Might they obtain;—but listening at the door,
They only heard him breathing heavily,
And caught at intervals a long-drawn sigh;
Till, more times called, he faintly did desire
Who called to know, and what they might require.

VIII.

—“Oh! fares it, dearest lord, so ill with thee,
That now thou dost no more our voices know,
Who once could’st tell us each from each, if we
Did but so much as near thy dungeon go,
Bound on our weary errands to and fro?”
—“Oh, pardon me, my friends,—my extreme pain
Hath robbed me of all sense and dulled my brain.

IX.

“But go and say in what an evil case
I find me now;—perchance they will relent
So far that I may in this noisome place,
For my short time remaining, not be pent;
Or at my prayer they will at least consent
That one of you may now continue nigh,
And watch beside me—for, dear friends, I die.”

X.

To the king’s presence straight they forced their way,
Regardless of what dangers they might meet:
Before him prone upon the earth they lay;
They kissed the very ground beneath his feet,
Laying the dust with tears, and did entreat
In anguish that their lord might not be left
Unhelped to perish, of all aid bereft.

XI.

But little might they find of pity there;
New insults and new taunts were all they won;
These, with rude blows, their only answer were:
—“Back to your tasks, ye Christian dogs—begone—
Away! from me compassion finds he none:
Let him upon himself compassion show;
I swear, by Heaven, he shall no other know!

XII.

“What! shall ye come in arms to waste our land,
God’s people to extirpate shall ye come,
And then, when it fares ill with you, demand
Our pity?—no; accept your righteous doom,
O fools! that in your own land had not room
To dwell—that had not strength to conquer ours;
Fools, whose desires so far outstrip your powers!

XIII.

“Where are they now, that with the fire and sword
Our land to harry were so free of old?
Can they no pity to your Prince afford?
Where is your King, and where your captains bold?
Or has it not in Portugal been told
What here is done, and what by him is borne
Of shame and outrage, and of extreme scorn?”

XIV.

It seemed that for those votaries of Mahound
All love, all mercy quite had fled away;
Yet in one heart this much of grace they found,
That when their tasks were ended of the day,
He who the dungeon where the sufferer lay
Kept, unto them consented to afford
A brief communion with their dying lord.

XV.

Admitted there, from cries and loud lament,
Untimely now, they scarcely could refrain:
Fain would they with their shrieks the vault have rent;
They knelt beside him,—kissed his hands, the chain
That on his wasted limbs did still remain;
They cast themselves the dungeon-floor along,
And tore their beards, and did their faces wrong.

XVI.

Sobs choked their utterance wholly, to behold
The lineaments so marred and so defaced,
Which they had loved and reverenced so of old.
He too was deeply moved, but sooner chased
The weakness from him, and with calm replaced:
Then from the strawen pallet where he lay
Himself a little raising, thus did say:—

XVII.

“If I sometimes an earnest hope have fed,
That I might breathe again my native air,
And tread my natal soil—this wish was bred
By the desire I cherished to prepare
For you such honourable shelter there,
As could none other do, who did not know
How truly you have served me in my woe.

XVIII.

“For had I sate a king upon my throne,
All wealth, all honour waiting on mine eye,
You never could have truer service shown
Than you _have_ shown me in my misery—
Nor I from any found more loyalty,
Than that which I _have_ found upon your parts,
Oh children dear! oh true and faithful hearts!

XIX.

“And now that I am hastening to my rest,
One only thought of trouble doth employ
My soul, that I am leaving you opprest
With this huge weight of woe;—the perfect joy
My bosom feels, knows only this alloy,
That many, when my lips are closed in death,
Will seek to draw you from your holy faith.

XX.

“But oh! whatever of worst ill betide,
Seek not this manner to evade your woe.
Be true to God—on him in faith abide,
And sure deliverance you at length shall know;
It may be that some path his hand will show
To your dear earthly homes—or he will shape
For you at length my way of glad escape.

XXI.

“Be true to God—forsake not him, and you
In all your griefs forsake he never will;
The true of heart have found him ever true:
And this I say, who having known much ill,
Do now affirm him faithful to fulfil
All promises—and boldly say that he
In all my griefs hath not forsaken me.”

XXII.

No more he spake—but speechless sank, oppressed
With the fierce fever that within him burned;
But oh! what anguish then the hearts possessed
Of that poor captive band, who weeping turned,
And their dear lord, as now departed, mourned,—
Forth filing from that vault, a weeping train
Who had beheld him now, and should not see again.

XXIII.

Now seemed they desolate—for he, although
Helpless his dearest to defend with power
From the least insult of the meanest foe,
Had seemed to them a shelter and a tower
Of refuge in affliction’s fiercest hour,
From his lone dungeon spreading broad above
Their heads the buckler of his faith and love.

XXIV.

And still the tears flowed faster from their eyes,
As each his fellow weeping did remind
Of all his loving gentle courtesies,
And gracious acts—how oft, as one that pined,
E’en ere that sickness took him, he declined
His scanty portion of the food prepared,
Which among them with this pretext he shared.

XXV.

—“He knew our fetters’ clank, and with quick ear
One from another by that mournful sound
He could discern, nor ever passed we near
His dungeon, on our weary labour bound,
But he for us some words of comfort found,
And still he begged us pardon him, as though
Himself he owned the cause of all our woe.

XXVI.

“And what most grieved him, more than all he bore
In his own person of injurious wrong,
Piercing his very bosom’s inmost core,
Was, if the tale was brought him that among
Us, his dear children, there had strife upsprung,
As sometimes did—for grief is quick and wild,—
Then left he not, till we were reconciled.”

XXVII.

—Beside the Prince might only one remain
In that unlighted vault the livelong night:
Its earlier watches seemed of restless pain,
Nothing he spake—but tossed from left to right,
Like one who vainly did some ease invite;
Till when it verged toward morning, he that kept
That anxious vigil deemed the sufferer slept:

XXVIII.

Or sometimes feared he was already dead,
So noiseless now that chamber’s silence deep;
Yet ventured not to speak or stir, for dread
Lest he should chase away that sweetest sleep
Of morning, which comes over them that keep
Pained watches through the night;—till tardily
The morning broke, and he drew gently nigh.

XXIX.

When lo! with folded palms the Martyr lay,
His eyes unclosed—and stood in each a tear,
And round his mouth a sweeter smile did play
Than ever might on mortal lips appear:
No mortal joy could ever have come near
The joy that bred that smile—with waking eye
He seemed to mark some vision streaming by.

XXX.

Then feared to rouse him from that blessèd trance,
And back again with noiseless step retired
That good old man—nor nearer would advance,
Though of his weal he gladly had required.
He waited, and a long long hour expired,
And it was silence still—when to his bed
Him beckoning soft, the princely sufferer said—

XXXI.

“What I shall speak, now promise that to none
Of all my fellow captives shall be told,
That not till this poor body shall have gone
The way of all the earth, thou wilt unfold
My words, yea evermore in silence hold,
Unless hereafter should a time betide,
When by the telling God were glorified.

XXXII.

“Two hours or more before the spring of day,
As I within me mused how poor and leer
This world, and as in pain I waking lay,
Thought upon all the happy souls, that here
Once suffered, but are now exempt from fear
And pain and wrong, there woke within my breast
A speechless longing for that heavenly rest.

XXXIII.

“Mine eyes were steadfastly towàrd the wall
Turned, when I saw a wondrous vision there;
I saw a vision bright, majestical,
One seated on a throne—and many fair
And dazzling shapes before him gathered were,
With palms in hand—such glory from his face
Was shed, as lightened all this dismal place.

XXXIV.

“This dismal vault, this dungeon of deep gloom,
This sunless dwelling of eternal night,
Which I have felt so long my living tomb,
Showed like the court of heaven—so clear, so bright,
So full of odours, harmonies and light—
And music filled the air—an heavenly strain,
That rose awhile, and then was hushed again.

XXXV.

“Then one came forward from that blessed throng,
And kneeled to him, and said—‘Compassion take
On this thy servant, who has suffered long
Such great and heavy troubles for thy sake,
We thank thee, Lord, that thou so soon wilt make
Thy servant’s many woes to end, that he
Into our choir admitted now will be.’

XXXVI.

“When thus I heard him speak, I marked him well,
And by his banner and his scales, I knew
It was the great Archangel Michaël:
And by his side there knelt another too,
Who in one hand a chalice held in view,
The other clasped a book, and there was writ,
‘In the beginning was the Word,’ in it.

XXXVII.

“But then my Lord, my Saviour turned to me,
And with sweet smile ineffable he said,
‘To-day thou comest hence and shalt be free!’—
With music, as it came, then vanishèd
The vision—but within me it has bred
Sweet comfort that remains, and now I know
To-day I leave the world, and end my woe.

XXXVIII.

“My Lord, my God, what wondrous grace is this
That thou hast not disdained to visit me,
And give me tidings of my coming bliss—
Who am I, sinful man, so graced to be?
Oh gladly will I bear whate’er by thee
May be appointed, ere my race be run,
Of pain or travail—Lord, thy will be done.”

XXXIX.

In calmest quiet waiting his release,
When he had finished thus his prayer, he lay:
“Lord, now thou lettest me depart in peace,”
Were the last words which he was heard to say,
Upon his left side turning, as the day
Slow sinking now with more than usual pride
Streamed through the prison bars, a glory deep and wide.

XL.

When the last flush had faded from the west,
When the last streak of golden light was gone,
They looked, but he had entered on his rest—
He too his haven of repose had won,
Leaving this truth to be gainsaid by none,
That what the scroll upon his shield did say,
That well his life had proved—_Le bien me plaît_.



ORPHEUS AND THE SIRENS.


I.

High on the poop, with many a godlike peer,
  With heroes and with kings, the flower of Greece,
That gathered at his word from far and near,
  To snatch the guarded fleece,


II.

Great Jason stood; nor ever from the soil
  The anchor’s brazen tooth unfastenèd,
Till, auspicating so his glorious toil,
  From golden cup he shed


III.

Libations to the Gods—to highest Jove—
  To Waves and prospering Winds—to Night and Day—
To all, by whom befriended, they might prove
  A favourable way.


IV.

With him the twins—one mortal, one divine—
  Of Leda, and the Strength of Hercules;
And Tiphys, steersman through the perilous brine,
  And many more with these:—


V.

Great father, Peleus, of a greater son,
  And Atalanta, martial queen, was here;
And that supreme Athenian, nobler none,
  And Idmon, holy seer.


VI.

Nor Orpheus pass unnamed, though from the rest
  Apart, he leaned upon that lyre divine,
Which once in heaven his glory should attest,
  Set there a sacred sign.


VII.

But when auspicious thunders rolled on high,
  Unto its chords and to his chant sublime
The joyful heroes, toiling manfully,
  With measured strokes kept time.


VIII.

Then when that keel divided first the waves,
  Them Chiron cheered from Pelion’s piny crown,
And wondering Sea-nymphs rose from ocean caves,
  And all the Gods looked down.


IX.

The bark divine, itself instinct with life,
  Went forth, and baffled Ocean’s rudest shocks,
Escaping, though with pain and arduous strife,
  The huge encountering rocks;


X.

And force and fraud o’ercome, and peril past,
  Its hard-won trophy raised in open view,
Through prosperous floods was bringing home at last
  Its high heroic crew;


XI.

Till now they cried, (Ææa left behind,
  And the dead waters of the Cronian main,)
“No peril more upon our path we find,
  Safe haven soon we gain.”


XII.

When, as they spake, sweet sounds upon the breeze
  Came to them, melodies till now unknown,
And blended into one delight with these,
  Sweet odours sweetly blown,—


XIII.

Sweet odours wafted from the flowery isle,
  Sweet music breathèd by the Sirens three,
Who there lie wait, all passers to beguile,
  Fair monsters of the sea—


XIV.

Fair monsters foul, that with their magic song
  And beauty to the shipman wandering,
Worse peril than disastrous whirlpools strong,
  Or fierce sea-robbers bring.


XV.

Sometimes upon the diamond rocks they leant,
  Sometimes they sate upon the flowery lea
That sloped towàrd the wave, and ever sent
  Shrill music o’er the sea.


XVI.

One piped, one sang, one struck the golden lyre;
  And thus to forge and fling a threefold chain
Of linkèd harmony the three conspire,
  O’er land and hoary main.


XVII.

The winds, suspended by the charmèd song,
  Shed treacherous calm about that fatal isle;
The waves, as though the halcyon o’er its young
  Were brooding, always smile;


XVIII.

And every one that listens, presently
  Forgetteth home, and wife, and children dear,
All noble enterprise and purpose high,
  And turns his pinnace here,—


XIX.

He turns his pinnace, warning taking none
  From the plain doom of all who went before,
Whose bones lie bleaching in the wind and sun,
  And whiten all the shore.


XX.

He cannot heed,—so sweet unto him seems
  To reap the harvest of the promised joy;
The wave-worn man of such secure rest dreams,
  So guiltless of annoy.


XXI.

The heroes and the kings, the wise, the strong,
  That won the fleece with cunning and with might,
_Their_ souls were taken in the net of song,
  Entangled in delight;


XXII.

Till ever loathlier seemed all toil to be,
  And that small space they yet must travel o’er,
Stretched an immeasurable breadth of sea
  Their fainting hearts before.


XXIII.

“Let us turn hitherward our bark,” they cried,
  “And, ’mid the blisses of this happy isle,
Past toil forgetting and to come, abide
  In joyfulness awhile;


XXIV.

“And then, refreshed, our tasks resume again,
  If other tasks we yet are bound unto,
Combing the hoary tresses of the main
  With sharp swift keel anew.”


XXV.

O heroes, that had once a nobler aim,
  O heroes, sprung from many a godlike line,
What will ye do, unmindful of your fame,
  And of your race divine?


XXVI.

But they, by these prevailing voices now
  Lured, evermore draw nearer to the land,
Nor saw the wrecks of many a goodly prow,
  That strewed that fatal strand;


XXVII.

Or seeing, feared not—warning taking none
  From the plain doom of all who went before,
Whose bones lay bleaching in the wind and sun,
  And whitened all the shore.


XXVIII.

And some impel through foaming billows now
  The hissing keel, and some tumultuous stand
Upon the deck, or crowd about the prow,
  Waiting to leap to land.


XXIX.

And them had thus this lodestar of delight
  Drawn to their ruin wholly, but for one
Of their own selves, who struck his lyre with might,
  Calliope’s great son.


XXX.

He singing, (for mere words were now in vain,
  That melody so led all souls at will,)
Singing he played, and matched that earth-born strain
  With music sweeter still.


XXXI.

Of holier joy he sang, more true delight,
  In other happier isles for them reserved,
Who, faithful here, from constancy, and right,
  And truth have never swerved;


XXXII.

How evermore the tempered ocean gales
  Breathe round those hidden islands of the blest,
Steeped in the glory spread when daylight fails
  Far in the sacred West;


XXXIII.

How unto them, beyond our mortal night,
  Shines evermore in strength the golden day;
And meadows with purpureal roses bright
  Bloom round their feet alway;


XXXIV.

And plants of gold—some burn beneath the sea,
  And some, for garlands apt, the land doth bear,
And lacks not many an incense-breathing tree,
  Enriching all that air.


XXXV.

Nor need is more, with sullen strength of hand
  To vex the stubborn earth, or plough the main;
They dwell apart, a calm heroic band,
  Not tasting toil or pain.


XXXVI.

Nor sang he only of unfading bowers,
  Where they a tearless, painless age fulfil,
In fields Elysian spending blissful hours,
  Remote from every ill;


XXXVII.

But of pure gladness found in temperance high,
  In duty owned, and reverenced in awe,
Of man’s true freedom, that may only lie
  In servitude to law;


XXXVIII.

And how ’twas given through virtue to aspire
  To golden seats in ever-calm abodes;
Of mortal men, admitted to the quire
  Of high immortal Gods.


XXXIX.

He sang—a mighty melody divine,
  That woke deep echoes in the heart of each—
Reminded whence they drew their royal line,
  And to what heights might reach.


XL.

And all the while they listened, them the speed
  Bore forward still of favouring wind and tide,
That, when their ears were open to give heed
  To any sound beside,


XLI.

The feeble echoes of that other lay,
  Which held awhile their senses thralled and bound,
Were in the distance fading quite away,
  A dull, unheeded sound.



ST. CHRYSOSTOM.


’Tis not by action only, not by deed,
Though that be just and holy, pure and wise,
That man may to his last perfection rise;
Of suffering as of doing he has need:
Thus prospers with due change the heavenly seed,
While stormy night succeeds to sunny day;
Thus the good metal, proven every way,
From the last dross that clung to it is freed.
And thus for thee, O glorious man, on whom
Love well deserved, and honour waited long,
In thy last years in place of timely ease
There did remain another loftier doom,
Pain, travail, exile, peril, scorn and wrong—
Glorious before, but glorified through these.



THE OIL OF MERCY.


Many beauteous spots the earth
Keepeth yet,—but brighter, fairer
Did that long-lost Eden show
Than the loveliest that remaineth:
So what marvel, when our Sire
Was from thence expelled, he waited
Lingering with a fond regret
Round those blessèd happy places
Once his home, while innocence
Was his bright sufficient raiment?
Long he lingered there, and saw
Up from dark abysmal spaces
Four strong rivers rushing ever;
Saw the mighty wall exalted
High as heaven, and on its heights
Glimpses of the fiery Angel.

  Long he lingered near, with hope
Which had never quite abated,
That one day the righteous sentence,
Dooming him to stern disgraces,
Should be disannulled, and he
In his first bliss reinstated.

  But when mortal pangs surprised him,
By an unseen foe assailèd,
Seth he called, his dearest son,
Called him to his side, and faintly
Him addressed—“My son, thou knowest
Of what sufferings partaker,
Of what weariness and toil,
Of what sickness, pain and danger
I have been, since that sad hour
That from Eden’s precincts drave me.
But thou dost not know that God,
When to exile forth I farèd,
Houseless wanderer through the world,
Thus with gracious speech bespake me:
—‘Though thou mayst not here continue,
In these blessèd happy places,
As before from pain exempt,
Suffering, toil, and mortal ailment,
Think not thou shalt therefore be
Of my loving care forsaken:
Rather shall that tree of life,
In the middle garden planted,
Once a precious balm distil,
Which to thee applied, thine ailments
Shall be all removed, and thou
Made of endless life partaker.’—
With these words he cheered me then,
Words that have remained engraven
On my bosom’s tablets since.
Go then, dear my son, oh hasten
Unto Eden’s guarded gate,
Tell thine errand to the Angel;
And that fiery sentinel
To the tree will guide thee safely,
Where it stands, aloft, alone,
In the garden’s middle spaces:
Thence bring back that oil of mercy,
Ere my lamp of life be wasted.”

  When his father’s feeble words
Seth had heard, at once he hastened,
Hoping to bring back that oil,
Ere the light had wholly faded
From his father’s eyes, the lamp
Of his life had wholly wasted.
O’er the plain besprent with flowers,
With ten thousand colours painted
In that spring-time of the year,
By Thelassar on he hastened,
Made no pause, till Eden’s wall
Rose an ever verdant barrier,
High as heaven’s great roof, that shines
With its bright carbuncles paven.
There the son of Adam paused,
For above him hung the Angel
In the middle air suspense,
With his swift sword glancing naked.
Down upon his face he fell
By the sun-bright vision dazèd.
“Child of man”—these words he heard,
“Rise, and say what thing thou cravest?”

All his father’s need he told,
And how now his father waited,
In his mighty agony
For that medicine yearning greatly.
“But thou seekest” (this reply
Then he heard) “thou seekest vainly
For that oil of mercy yet,
Nor will tears nor prayers avail thee.
Go then quickly back, and bring
These my words to him, _thy_ parent,
Parent of the race of men.
He and they in faith and patience
Must abide, long years must be
Ere the precious fruit be gathered,
Ere the oil of mercy flow
From the blessèd tree and sacred
In the Paradise of God:
Nor till then will be obtainèd
The strong medicine of life,
Healing every mortal ailment,
Nor thy sire till then be made
Of immortal life a sharer.
Fear not that his heart will sink
When these tidings back thou bearest,
Rather thou shalt straightway see
All his fears and pangs abated,
And by faith allayed to meekness
Every wish and thought impatient.
Hasten back then—thy return,
Strongly yearning, he awaiteth:
Hasten back then.”—On the word
To his father back he hastened,
Found him waiting his return
In his agony, his latest:
Told him of what grace to come,
Of what sure hope he was bearer—
Saw him, when that word was spoke,
Every fear and pang assuagèd,
And by faith allayed to meekness,
Every wish and thought impatient,
Like a child resign himself
Unto sweet sleep, calm and painless.



THE TREE OF LIFE.

FROM THE GERMAN OF RÜCKERT.


I.

When Adam’s latest breath was nearly gone,
To Paradise the Patriarch sent his son,


II.

A branch to fetch him from the tree of life,
Hoping to taste of it ere life was done.


III.

Seth brought the branch, but ere he had arrived,
His father’s spirit was already flown.


IV.

Then planted they the twig on Adam’s grave,
And it was tended still from son to son.


V.

It grew while Joseph in the dungeon lay,
It grew while Israel did in Egypt groan.


VI.

Sweet odours gave the blossoms of the tree,
When David harping sat upon his throne.


VII.

Dry was the tree, when from the ways of God
Went erring in his wisdom Solomon:


VIII.

Yet the world hoped it would revive anew,
When David’s stock should give another Son.


IX.

Faith saw in spirit this, the while she sat
Mourning beside the floods of Babylon.


X.

And when the eternal lightning flashed from heaven,
The tree asunder burst with jubilant tone.


XI.

To the dry trunk this grace from God was given,
The Wòod of Passion should from thence be won.


XII.

The blind world fashioned out of it the cross,
And its Salvation nailed with scorn thereon.


XIII.

Then bore the tree of life ensanguined fruit,
Which whoso tasteth life shall be his loan.


XIV.

Oh look, oh look, how grows the tree of life,
By storms established more, not overthrown.


XV.

May the _whole_ world beneath its shadow rest:
_Half_ has its shelter there already won.



THE TREE OF LIFE

FROM AN OLD LATIN POEM.


I.

There is a spot, by men believed to be
Earth’s centre, and the place of Adam’s grave,
And here a slip that from a barren tree
Was cut, fruit sweet and salutary gave—
Yet not unto the tillers of the land;
That blessèd fruit was culled by other hand.


II.

The shape and fashion of the tree attend:
From undivided stem at first it sprung;
Thence in two arms its branches did outsend,
Like sail-yards whence the flowing sheet is hung,
Or as a yoke that in the furrow stands,
When the tired steers are loosened from their bands.


III.

Three days the slip from which this tree should spring
Appeared as dead—then suddenly it bore
(While earth and heaven stood awed and wondering)
Harvest of vital fruit;—the fortieth more
Beheld it touch heaven’s summit with its height,
And shroud its sacred head in clouds of light.


IV.

Yet the same while it did put forth below
Branches twice six, these too with fruit endued,
Which stretching to all quarters might bestow
Upon all nations medicine and food,
Which mortal men might eat, and eating be
Sharers henceforth of immortality.


V.

But when another fifty days were gone,
A breath divine, a mighty storm of heaven
On all the branches swiftly lighted down,
To which a rich nectareous taste was given,
And all the heavy leaves that on them grew
Distilled henceforth a sweet and heavenly dew.


VI.

Beneath that tree’s great shadow on the plain
A fountain bubbled up, whose lymph serene
Nothing of earthly mixture might distain:
Fountain so pure not anywhere was seen
In all the world, nor on whose marge the earth
Put flowers of such unfading beauty forth.


VII.

And thither did all people, young and old,
Matrons and virgins, rich and poor, a crowd
Stream ever, who, whenas they did behold
Those branches with their golden burden bowed,
Stretched forth their hands, and eager glances threw
Towàrd the fruit distilling that sweet dew.


VIII.

But touch they might not these, much less allay
Their hunger, howsoe’er they might desire,
Till the foul tokens of their former way
They had washed off, the dust and sordid mire,
And cleansed their bodies in that holy wave,
Able from every spot and stain to save.


IX.

But when within their mouths they had received
Of that immortal fruit the gust divine,
Straight of all sickness were their souls relieved,
The weak grew strong;—and tasks they did decline
As overgreat for them, they shunned no more,
And things they deemed they could not bear, they bore.


X.

But woe, alas! some daring to draw near
That sacred stream, did presently retire,
Drew wholly back again, and did not fear
To stain themselves in all their former mire,
That fruit rejecting from their mouths again,
Not any more their medicine, but their bane.


XI.

Oh blessèd they, who not retreating so,
First in that fountain make them pure and fair,
And do from thence unto the branches go,
With power upon the fruitage hanging there:
Thence by the branches of the lofty tree
Ascend to heaven—The Tree of Life oh! see.



PARADISE.

FROM THE GERMAN OF RÜCKERT.


I.

Oh! Paradise must show more fair
  Than any earthly ground,
And therefore longs my spirit there
  Right quickly to be found.


II.

In Paradise a stream must flow
  Of everlasting love:
Each tear of longing shed below
  Therein a pearl will prove.


III.

In Paradise a breath of balm
  All anguish must allay,
Till every anguish growing calm,
  Even mine shall flee away.


IV.

And there the tree of stillest peace
  In verdant spaces grows:
Beneath it one can never cease
  To dream of blest repose.


V.

A cherub at the gate must be,
  Far off the world to fray,
That its rude noises reach not me,
  To fright my dream away.


VI.

My heart, that weary ship, at last
  Safe haven there will gain,
And on the breast will slumber fast
  The wakeful infant, Pain.


VII.

For every thorn that pierced me here
  The rose will there be found,
With joy, earth’s roses brought not near,
  My head will there be crowned.


VIII.

There all delights will blossom forth,
  That here in bud expire,
And from all mourning weeds of earth
  Be wove a bright attire.


IX.

All here I sought in vain pursuit,
  Will freely meet me there,
As from green branches golden fruit,
  Fair flowers from gardens fair.


X.

My youth, that by me swept amain,
  On swift wing borne away,
And Love that suffered me to drain
  Its nectar for a day,—


XI.

These, never wishing to depart,
  Will me for ever bless,
Their darling fold unto the heart,
  And comfort and caress.


XII.

And there the Loveliness, whose glance
  From far did on me gleam,
But whose unveilèd countenance
  Was only seen in dream,


XIII.

Will, meeting all my soul’s desires,
  Unveil itself to me,
When to the choir of starry lyres
  Shall mine united be.



THE LOREY LEY.

FROM THE GERMAN OF HEINE.


I.

What makes me so heavy-hearted,
  I ask of my heart in vain:
But a tale of the times departed
  Haunts ever my heart and brain.


II.

In the cool air it waxes dimmer,
  And quietly flows the Rhine:
And the mountain summits glimmer
  In the sunny evening shine.


III.

There sits on the rocks a maiden
  In marvellous beauty there.
With gold her apparel is laden,
  And she combs her golden hair:


IV.

And the comb is of gold and glistens,
  And thereto she sings a song,
Which for every soul that listens
  Has a potent spell and strong.


V.

The boatman in light boat speeding,
  When he hears it, utters a cry,
No longer the rapids heeding,
  But only gazing on high.


VI.

The stream is its wild waves flinging
  O’er boat and boatman anon,
And ’tis this with her lovely singing
  Which the Lorey Ley has done.



I.

Oh thou of dark forebodings drear,
  Oh thou of such a faithless heart,
  Hast thou forgotten what thou art,
That thou hast ventured so to fear?


II.

No weed on Ocean’s bosom cast,
  Borne by its never-resting foam
  This way and that, without an home,
Till flung on some bleak shore at last—


III.

But thou the Lotus, which above
  Swayed here and there by wind and tide,
  Yet still below doth fixed abide
Fast rooted in the eternal Love.



THE PRODIGAL.


I.

Why feedest thou on husks so coarse and rude?
I could not be content with angels’ food.


II.

How camest thou companion for the swine?
I loathed the courts of heaven, the choir divine.


III.

Who bade thee crouch in hovel dark and drear?
I left a palace wide to sojourn here.


IV.

Harsh tyrant’s slave who made thee, once so free?
A father’s rule too heavy seemed to me.


V.

What sordid rags hang round thee on the breeze?
I laid immortal robes aside for these.


VI.

An exile through the world who bade thee roam?
None, but I wearied of an happy home.


VII.

Why must thou dweller in a desert be?
A garden seemed not fair enough to me.


VIII.

Why sue a beggar at the mean world’s door?
To live on God’s large bounty seemed so poor.


IX.

What has thy forehead so to earthward brought?
To lift it higher than the stars I thought.



THE CORREGAN.

A BALLAD OF BRITTANY.


I.

They were affianced, a youthful pair;
In youth, alas! they divided were.


II.

Lovely twins she has brought to light,
A boy and a girl, both snowy white.


III.

—“What shall now for thee be done,
Who hast brought me this longed-for son?


IV.

“Shall I fetch thee fowl from the sedgy mere?
Or strike in the greenwood the flying deer?”


V.

—“Wild deer’s flesh would please me best,
Yet wherefore go to the far forèst?”


VI.

He snatched his spear, he mounted his steed;
He to the greenwood is gone with speed.


VII.

When he there arrived, a milk-white hind
Started before him as swift as wind.


VIII.

He pursued it with foot so fleet,
On his forehead stood the heat,


IX.

And down his courser’s flanks it ran;
—Evening now to close began;


X.

When he espied a stream that flowed
Near the Corregan’s abode.


XI.

Smoothest turf encircled its brink;
Down from his steed he alit to drink.


XII.

By its margin was seated there
The Corregan, combing her golden hair,


XIII.

Combing it with a comb of gold;—
Richly clad, and bright to behold.


XIV.

—“Thou art bolder than thou dost know,
Daring to trouble my waters so.


XV.

“Me shalt thou on the instant wed,
Or in three days shalt be dead.”


XVI.

—“I will not wed on the instant thee,
Nor yet in three days dead will be.


XVII.

“When God pleases I will die,
And already wedded am I;


XVIII.

“And besides I had rather died
Than to make a fairy my bride.”


XIX.

—“Sick am I, mother, at heart; oh spread,
If thou lovest me, my death-bed!


XX.

“Me the fairy has looked to death:
In three days shall I yield my breath.


XXI.

“Yet though my body in earth they lay,
To her I love, oh! nothing say.”


XXII.

—Three days after, “O mother, tell,”
She exclaimed, “why tolls the bell?


XXIII.

“Why do the Priests so mournfully go,
Clad in white, and chanting low?”


XXIV.

—“A beggar we lodged died yesternight;
They bury him with the morning light.”


XXV.

—“O mother, where is my husband gone?”
—“He from the town will return anon.”


XXVI.

—“O mother, I would to church repair;
Tell me what were meetest to wear:


XXVII.

“Shall it be my robe of blue,
Or my vest of scarlet hue?”


XXVIII.

—“It is now the manner to wear
Garments of black, my daughter, there.”


XXIX.

When she came to the churchyard ground,
Her husband’s grave was the first she found.


XXX.

—“Death of kin I have not heard,
Yet this earth has been newly stirred.”


XXXI.

—“My daughter, the truth I needs must show;
’Tis thy husband that lies below.”


XXXII.

Down she fell upon that floor;
Thence she rose not any more.


XXXIII.

But the night next after the day,
When by his her body lay,


XXXIV.

Two tall oaks, both stately and fair,
Marvel to see! arose in air;

XXXV.

And upon their uppermost spray,
Two white doves, delightsome and gay:


XXXVI.

At dawn of morn they did sweetly sing;
At noon toward heaven they lightly spring.



SONNET.


Ulysses, sailing by the Sirens’ isle,
Sealed first his comrades’ ears, then bade them fast
Bind him with many a fetter to the mast,
Lest those sweet voices should their souls beguile,
And to their ruin flatter them, the while
Their homeward bark was sailing swiftly past;
And thus the peril they behind them cast,
Though chased by those weird voices many a mile.
But yet a nobler cunning Orpheus used:
No fetter he put on, nor stopped his ear,
But ever, as he passed, sang high and clear
The blisses of the Gods, their holy joys,
And with diviner melody confused
And marred earth’s sweetest music to a noise.



SONNET.


Were the sad tablets of our hearts alone
A dreary blank, for Thee the task were light,
To draw fair letters there and lines of light:
But while far other spectacle is shown
By them, with dismal traceries overdrawn,
Oh! task it seems, transcending highest might,
Ever again to make them clean and white,
Effacing the sad secrets they have known.
And then what heaven were better than a name,
If there must haunt and cling unto us there
Abiding memories of our sin and shame?
Dread doubt! which finds no answer anywhere
Except in him, who with him power did bring
To make us feel our sin an alien thing.



SONNET.


In the mid garden doth a fountain stand;
From font to font its waters fall alway,
Freshening the leaves by their continual play:—
Such often have I seen in southern land,
While every leaf, as though by light winds fanned,
Has quivered underneath the dazzling spray,
Keeping its greenness all the sultry day,
While others pine aloof, a parchèd band.
And in the mystic garden of the soul
A fountain, nourished from the upper springs,
Sends ever its clear waters up on high,
Which, while a dewy freshness round it flings,
All plants which there acknowledge its control
Show fair and green, else drooping, pale, and dry.



THE ETRURIAN KING.

[See Mrs. Hamilton Gray’s “Visit to the Sepulchres of Etruria.”]


I.

One only eye beheld him in his pride,
The old Etrurian monarch, as he, died;


II.

And as they laid him on his bier of stone,
Shield, spear, and arrows laying at his side;


III.

In golden armour with his crown of gold,
One only eye the kingly warrior spied;


IV.

Nor that eye long—for in the common air
The wondrous pageant might not now abide,


V.

Which had in sealèd sepulchre the wrongs
Of time for thirty centuries defied.


VI.

That eye beheld it melt and disappear,
As down an hour-glass the last sand-drops glide.


VII.

A few short moments,—and a shrunken heap
Of common dust survived, of all that pride:


VIII.

And so that gorgeous vision has remained
For evermore to other eye denied:


IX.

And he who saw must oftentimes believe
That him his waking senses had belied,


X.

Since what if all the pageants of the earth
Melt soon away, and may not long abide,


XI.

Yet when did ever doom _so_ swift before
Even to the glories of the earth betide?



THE FAMINE.


I.

Oh, time it was of famine sore,
  That ever sorer grew;
And many hungered that before
  Rich plenty only knew!


II.

For year by year the labouring hind
  Bewailed his fruitless toil,
And ever seemed some spell to bind
  The hard, unthankful soil.


III.

His seed-corn rotted in the ground,
  And did no more appear;
Or if in blade and stalk was found,
  It withered in the ear.


IV.

And now unseasonable rains,
  And now untimely drought,
With blight and mildew, all his pains
  And hopes to nothing brought.


V.

And ever did that keen distress
  In wider circles spread;
Who once with alms did others bless,
  Now lacked their daily bread,


VI.

—One only, who was never known
  To bless another’s board—
In all that Suabian land alone
  This cruel, impious lord,


VII.

Did all the while exempt appear
  From this wide-reaching ill;
With largest bounties of the year,
  His broad fields laughing still.


VIII.

The Autumn duly had outpoured
  For him its plenteous horn,
And safe in ample granaries stored
  He saw his golden corn;


IX.

And high he reared new granaries vast,
  Of hewn stone builded strong,
And made with bars of iron fast,
  And fenced from every wrong.


X.

Till safe, as seemed, from every foe,
  He now, as if the sight
Of others’ want, and others’ woe
  Enhanced his own delight,


XI.

Sate high, and with his minions still
  Did keep continual feast;
Long nights with waste and wassail fill
  Which not with morning ceased;


XII.

Till ofttimes they who wandered near
  Those halls at early day,
Culling wild herbs and roots in fear,
  Their hunger to allay,


XIII.

Heard sounds of fierce and reckless mirth
  Borne from those halls of pride,
While famine’s feeble wail went forth
  From all the land beside;


XIV.

And strange thoughts rose in many a breast,
  Why God’s true servants pined,
And largest means this man unblest
  Did still for riot find;


XV.

Which stranger grew, as more and more
  He did his coffers fill
With gold and every precious store,
  Wrung from men’s cruel ill;


XVI.

As he each poor man’s field was fain
  To add unto his own—
To the wide space of his domain,
  Now daily wider grown.


XVII.

For some, their lives awhile to save,
  Had sold him house and lands;
And some to bonds their children gave,
  As grew his stern demands:


XVIII.

Yet not a whit for poor man’s curse
  This evil churl did care;
He said,—it passed, nor left him worse—
  That words were only air.


XIX.

He, if they cried “For Jesu’s sake,
  That so may light on thee
God’s blessing!” answer proud would make,
  “What will that profit me?”


XX.

“I ask no blessing—yet my fields
  Have store of spiky grain:
The earth to me its fatness yields,
  The sky its sun and rain.


XXI.

“And high my granaries stand, and strong,
  Huge-vaulted, ribbed with stone:
What need I fear? from any wrong
  I can defend mine own.”—


XXII.

Thus ever fierce, and fiercer rose
  His words of scorn and pride;
And more he mocked at mortal woes,
  And earth and heaven defied.


XXIII.

And thus it chanced upon a day,
  As oft had been before,
That from his gates he spurned away
  A widow, old and poor;


XXIV.

When to his presence entered in
  A servant, pale with fear,
And did with trembling words begin:—
  “Oh, dread my Lord, give ear!


XXV.

“As me perchance my business drew
  Thy storehouse vast beside,
I heard unwonted sounds, and through
  The iron grating spied.


XXVI.

“The thing I saw, if like it seemed
  To any thing on earth,
I might some huge black bull have deemed
  That hellish monstrous birth.


XXVII.

“Yet how should beast have entrance found
  Into that guarded place,
Which strangely now it wandered round,
  With wild, unresting pace?


XXVIII.

“Oh, here must be some warning meant,
  Which do not now deride:
Oh, yet have pity, and relent,
  Nor speak such words of pride!”


XXIX.

Slight heed his tale of fear might find,
  Slight heed his counsel true;
That utterance of his faithful mind
  He now had learned to rue,


XXX.

But that, even then, another came,
  Worse terror in his mien:
—“Three monstrous creatures, breathing flame,
  These eyes but now have seen;


XXXI.

“They toss about the hoarded store,
  And greedily they eat,
Consuming thus a part, but more
  They stamp beneath their feet.


XXXII.

“Oh, Sir! full often God doth take
  What we refuse to give;
But yet to him large offering make,
  And all our souls may live.”


XXXIII.

—“Fool!—Let another hasten now,
  But if he shall not see
The self-same vision, fellow, thou
  Shalt hang on yonder tree.”


XXXIV.

He said—when, lo! inrushed a third
  Within the briefest space:—
—“Of horses wild and bulls an herd
  Is filling all the place.


XXXV.

“The numbers of that furious rout
  Wax ever high and higher;
And from their mouths smoke issues out,
  And from their nostrils fire.


XXXVI.

“From side to side they leap and bound,
  The hoarded corn they eat,
They toss and scatter on the ground,
  And stamp beneath their feet.


XXXVII.

“My Lord, these portents do not scorn;
  Thy granary doors throw wide,
And poor men’s prayers even yet may turn
  The threatened wrath aside.”


XXXVIII.

—“What, all conspiring in one tale!
  Or fooled by one deceit!
Yet think not ye shall so prevail,
  Or me so lightly cheat.


XXXIX.

“Come with me;—fling the portals back;—
  I too this sight would see:
What! one and all this courage lack?
  Give _me_ the ponderous key.”


XL.

In fear the vassal multitude
  Fell back on either side:
Before the doors he singly stood—
  He singly—in his pride.


XLI.

But them, or ere he touched, asunder
  Some hand unbidden threw;
With lightning flash, with sound like thunder
  The gates wide open flew.


XLII.

How shook then underneath the tread
  Of thousand feet the earth!
Day darkened into night with dread!
  So wild a troop rushed forth.


XLIII.

And all who saw like dead men stood,
  As swept that wild troop by,
Till lost within a neighbouring wood
  For aye from mortal eye.


XLIV.

But when that hurricane was past
  Of hideous sight and sound,
And when they breathed anew, they cast
  Their fearful glances round:


XLV.

They lifted up a blackened corse,
  Where scorched and crushed it lay,
And scarred with hooves of fiery force,—
  Then bore in awe away;


XLVI.

They bore away, but not to hide
  In any holy ground;
Who in his height of sin had died
  No hallowed burial found.



THE PRIZE OF SONG.


I.

Challenged by the haughty daughters
  Of the old Emathian king,
Strove the Muses at the waters
  Of that Heliconian spring—
Proved beside those hallowed fountains
  Unto whom the prize of song,
Unto whom those streams and mountains
  Did of truest right belong.


II.

First those others in vexed numbers
  Mourned the rebel giant brood,
Whom the earth’s huge mass encumbers,
  Or who writhe, the vulture’s food;
Mourned for earth-born power, which faileth
  Heaven to win by might and main;
Then, thrust back, for ever waileth,
  Gnawing its own heart in pain.


III.

Nature shuddered while she hearkened,
  Through her veins swift horror ran:
Sun and stars, perturbed and darkened,
  To forsake their orbs began.
Back the rivers fled; the Ocean
  Howled upon a thousand shores,
As it would with wild commotion
  Burst its everlasting doors.


IV.

Hushed was not that stormy riot
  Till were heard the sacred Nine,
Singing of the blissful quiet
  In the happy seats divine;
Singing of those thrones immortal,
  Whither struggling men attain,
Passing humbly through the portal
  Of obedience, toil, and pain.


V.

At that melody symphonious
  Joy to Nature’s heart was sent,
And the spheres, again harmonious,
  Made sweet thunder as they went:
Lightly moved, with pleasure dancing,
  Little hills and mountains high,—
Helicon his head advancing,
  Till it almost touched the sky.


VI.

—Thou whom once those Sisters holy
  On thy lonely path hath met,
And, thy front thou stooping lowly,
  There their sacred laurel set,
Oh be thine, their mandate owning,
  Aye with them to win the prize,
Reconciling and atoning
  With thy magic harmonies—


VII.

An Arion thou, whose singing
  Rouses not a furious sea,
Rather the sea-monsters bringing
  Servants to its melody;—
An Amphion, not with passion
  To set wild the builders’ mind,
But the mystic walls to fashion,
  And the stones in one to bind.



NOTES.


THE STEADFAST PRINCE.


Page 128, stanzas 7, 8.

In these stanzas I had before me Calderon’s magnificent description
of the advance of the Portuguese fleet, which he puts into
the mouth of one of the Moors. These are a few lines:—

Primero nos pareció
Viendo que sus puntas tocan
Con el cielo, que eran nubes
De los que á la mar se arrojan
A concebir en zafir
Lluvias, que en cristal abortan.
Luego de marinos monstruos
Nos pareció errante copia,
Que á acompañar á Neptuno
Salian de sus alcobas:
Pues sacudiendo las velas
Que son del viento lisonja
Pensamos que sacudian
Las alas sobre las olas.
Ya parecia mas cerca
Una inmensa Babilonia,
De quien los pénsiles fueron
Flámulas, que el viento azotan.


P. 129, s. 9, l. 5.

“Vexilla Regis prodeunt,” the great Crusaders’ hymn.


P. 173.

ORPHEUS AND THE SIRENS.

This poem was first suggested by some words in the “Sirenes,
sive Voluptas,” in Lord Bacon’s “Sapientia Veterum.” [Orpheus]
“laudes Deorum cantans et reboans, Sirenum voces confudit
et summovit: meditationes enim rerum divinarum voluptates
sensûs non tantum potestate, sed etiam suavitate superant.”
According to the author of the “Orphic Argonautics,” the song
of Orpheus ended the enchantment of the Sirens, and caused
them to fling themselves into the sea, where they were changed
into rocks. Lord Bacon gives finely the meaning of the shore
white with bones (stanza xix.), which yet were unable to deter
others from approaching;—how it teaches us “exempla calamitatum,
licet clara et conspicua, contra voluptatum corruptelas non
multum proficere.”

The classical reader will at once recognise, in more than one
passage, my obligations to Pindar.


P. 185.

THE OIL OF MERCY.

The traditions concerning the relations between the Tree of
life which was set in Paradise, and the Cross on which hung
the Saviour of the world, are almost infinite; or, rather, the one
deep idea of their identity has clothed itself in innumerable forms.
They constitute indeed one of the richest portions of what may
without offence be termed the Mythology of the Christian Church.
That which I have followed here is given in the “Evangelium
Nicodemi,” c. 19. See Thilo’s “Codex Apocryphus,” v. i. p. 684.
In the “Recognitions” of Clement, l. 1, c. 45, an Ebionite book,
and therefore only acknowledging the humanity of Christ, he is,
consistently with this view, said, not himself to anoint, but to
have been anointed with the oil from the Tree of Life. The
connexion between the Tree of Life and the Cross of Christ has
been twice wrought up into sublime dramatic poems by Calderon;
once in his Auto, entitled “El Arbor del mejor Fruto;” and
again in that which is indeed only the same poem in a later and
more perfect form, “La Sibila del Oriente.” We have the same
tradition of Seth going to the gates of Paradise in the fine old
Cornish Mystery of “The Creation of the World,” which was
lately published with an English translation; and allusions to it
are frequent in all the popular literature of the Middle Ages;
see, for instance, Göthe’s recension of the “Reineke Fuchs,”
near the beginning of the tenth book; and I remember a curious
passage about it in Mandeville’s “Travels.” Rückert, in the
following poem, has given the tradition in somewhat a different
shape.

I may just observe that this poem is an attempt—I will confess
a most unsuccessful one—to write English verse in the Spanish
assonant rhyme, of which the principle is, that words are considered
to rhyme which have the same vowel-sounds, though the
consonants are different: thus, _angel_ and _raiment_ having the
same vowel-sounds, _a—e_, are perfect assonant rhymes. As in
the Persian Ghazel, there is but one rhyme running through the
whole poem, and in this all the alternate lines, beginning with
the second, terminate: and of course the rhythmical effect of the
poem is to be judged, not by any half-dozen lines apart, but by
the total impression which the whole Poem continuously read
leaves on the ear.


THE END.



LONDON:
BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS,
WHITEFRIARS.



Transcriber’s Note


Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation have been standardized but all other spelling and
punctuation remains unchanged.

Footnote has been placed at end of respective poem.

Poems with and without titles within the book were left as printed.





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