BID a strong ghost stand at the head That my Michael may sleep sound, Nor cry, nor turn in the bed Till his morning meal come round; And may departing twilight keep All dread afar till morning’s back. That his mother may not lack Her fill of sleep.
Bid the ghost have sword in fist: Some there are, for I avow Such devilish things exist, Who have planned his murder, for they know Of some most haughty deed or thought That waits upon his future days, And would through hatred of the bays Bring that to nought.
Though You can fashion everything From nothing every day, and teach The morning stars to sing, You have lacked articulate speech To tell Your simplest want, and known, Wailing upon a woman’s knee, All of that worst ignominy Of flesh and bone;
And when through all the town there ran The servants of Your enemy, A woman and a man, Unless the Holy Writings lie, Hurried through the smooth and rough And through the fertile and waste, protecting, till the danger past, With human love.
Know, that I would accounted be True brother of a company That sang, to sweeten Ireland’s wrong, Ballad and story, rann and song; Nor be I any less of them, Because the red-rose-bordered hem Of her, whose history began Before God made the angelic clan, Trails all about the written page. When Time began to rant and rage The measure of her flying feet Made Ireland’s heart begin to beat; And Time bade all his candles flare To light a measure here and there; And may the thoughts of Ireland brood Upon a measured quietude.
Nor may I less be counted one With Davis, Mangan, Ferguson, Because, to him who ponders well, My rhymes more than their rhyming tell Of things discovered in the deep, Where only body’s laid asleep. For the elemental creatures go About my table to and fro, That hurry from unmeasured mind To rant and rage in flood and wind; Yet he who treads in measured ways May surely barter gaze for gaze. Man ever journeys on with them After the red-rose-bordered hem. Ah, faeries, dancing under the moon, A Druid land, a Druid tune!
While still I may, I write for you The love I lived, the dream I knew. From our birthday, until we die, Is but the winking of an eye; And we, our singing and our love, What measurer Time has lit above, And all benighted things that go About my table to and fro, Are passing on to where may be, In truth’s consuming ecstasy, No place for love and dream at all; For God goes by with white footfall. I cast my heart into my rhymes, That you, in the dim coming times, May know how my heart went with them After the red-rose-bordered hem.
‘In our time the destiny of man presents its meanings in political terms.’ THOMAS MANN
How can I, that girl standing there, My attention fix On Roman or on Russian Or on Spanish politics? Yet here’s a travelled man that knows What he talks about, And there’s a politician That has read and thought, And maybe what they say is true Of war and war’s alarms
But O that I were young again And held her in my arms!
Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun, The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run, And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold, With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold, Like that which o’er Nineveh’s prophet once grew, While he waited to know that his warning was true, And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.
On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden; And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold; Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North, On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth, Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines, And the sun of September melts down on his vines.
Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West, From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest; When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board The old broken links of affection restored; When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more, And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before; What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye, What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?
Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling, When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling! When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin, Glaring out through the dark with a candle within! When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune, Our chair a broad pumpkin, — our lantern the moon, Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!
Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter! Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine, Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine! And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express, Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less, That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below, And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow, And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!
“Listen to me,” said the Demon as he placed his hand upon my head. “The region of which I speak is a dreary region in Libya, by the borders of the river Zaire. And there is no quiet there, nor silence. “The waters of the river have a saffron and sickly hue; and they flow not onwards to the sea, but palpitate forever and forever beneath the red eye of the sun with a tumultuous and convulsive motion. For many miles on either side of the river’s oozy bed is a pale desert of gigantic water-lilies. They sigh one unto the other in that solitude, and stretch towards the heaven their long and ghastly necks, and nod to and fro their everlasting heads. And there is an indistinct murmur which cometh out from among them like the rushing of subterrene water. And they sigh one unto the other.
“But there is a boundary to their realm—the boundary of the dark, horrible, lofty forest. There, like the waves about the Hebrides, the low underwood is agitated continually. But there is no wind throughout the heaven. And the tall primeval trees rock eternally hither and thither with a crashing and mighty sound. And from their high summits, one by one, drop everlasting dews. And at the roots strange poisonous flowers lie writhing in perturbed slumber. And overhead, with a rustling and loud noise, the gray clouds rush westwardly forever, until they roll, a cataract, over the fiery wall of the horizon. But there is no wind throughout the heaven. And by the shores of the river Zaire there is neither quiet nor silence.
“It was night, and the rain fell; and falling, it was rain, but, having fallen, it was blood. And I stood in the morass among the tall and the rain fell upon my head—and the lilies sighed one unto the other in the solemnity of their desolation.
“And, all at once, the moon arose through the thin ghastly mist, and was crimson in color. And mine eyes fell upon a huge gray rock which stood by the shore of the river, and was lighted by the light of the moon. And the rock was gray, and ghastly, and tall,—and the rock was gray. Upon its front were characters engraven in the stone; and I walked through the morass of water-lilies, until I came close unto the shore, that I might read the characters upon the stone. But I could not decypher them. And I was going back into the morass, when the moon shone with a fuller red, and I turned and looked again upon the rock, and upon the characters;—and the characters were DESOLATION.
“And I looked upwards, and there stood a man upon the summit of the rock; and I hid myself among the water-lilies that I might discover the actions of the man. And the man was tall and stately in form, and was wrapped up from his shoulders to his feet in the toga of old Rome. And the outlines of his figure were indistinct—but his features were the features of a deity; for the mantle of the night, and of the mist, and of the moon, and of the dew, had left uncovered the features of his face. And his brow was lofty with thought, and his eye wild with care; and, in the few furrows upon his cheek I read the fables of sorrow, and weariness, and disgust with mankind, and a longing after solitude.
“And the man sat upon the rock, and leaned his head upon his hand, and looked out upon the desolation. He looked down into the low unquiet shrubbery, and up into the tall primeval trees, and up higher at the rustling heaven, and into the crimson moon. And I lay close within shelter of the lilies, and observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude;—but the night waned, and he sat upon the rock.
“And the man turned his attention from the heaven, and looked out upon the dreary river Zaire, and upon the yellow ghastly waters, and upon the pale legions of the water-lilies. And the man listened to the sighs of the water-lilies, and to the murmur that came up from among them. And I lay close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude;—but the night waned and he sat upon the rock.
“Then I went down into the recesses of the morass, and waded afar in among the wilderness of the lilies, and called unto the hippopotami which dwelt among the fens in the recesses of the morass. And the hippopotami heard my call, and came, with the behemoth, unto the foot of the rock, and roared loudly and fearfully beneath the moon. And I lay close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude;—but the night waned and he sat upon the rock.
“Then I cursed the elements with the curse of tumult; and a frightful tempest gathered in the heaven where, before, there had been no wind. And the heaven became livid with the violence of the tempest—and the rain beat upon the head of the man—and the floods of the river came down—and the river was tormented into foam—and the water-lilies shrieked within their beds—and the forest crumbled before the wind—and the thunder rolled—and the lightning fell—and the rock rocked to its foundation. And I lay close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the man trembled in the solitude;—but the night waned and he sat upon the rock.
“Then I grew angry and cursed, with the curse of silence, the river, and the lilies, and the wind, and the forest, and the heaven, and the thunder, and the sighs of the water-lilies. And they became accursed, and were still. And the moon ceased to totter up its pathway to heaven—and the thunder died away—and the lightning did not flash—and the clouds hung motionless—and the waters sunk to their level and remained—and the trees ceased to rock—and the water-lilies sighed no more—and the murmur was heard no longer from among them, nor any shadow of sound throughout the vast illimitable desert. And I looked upon the characters of the rock, and they were changed;—and the characters were SILENCE.
“And mine eyes fell upon the countenance of the man, and his countenance was wan with terror. And, hurriedly, he raised his head from his hand, and stood forth upon the rock and listened. But there was no voice throughout the vast illimitable desert, and the characters upon the rock were SILENCE. And the man shuddered, and turned his face away, and fled afar off, in haste, so that I beheld him no more.”
Now there are fine tales in the volumes of the Magi—in the iron-bound, melancholy volumes of the Magi. Therein, I say, are glorious histories of the Heaven, and of the Earth, and of the mighty sea—and of the Genii that over-ruled the sea, and the earth, and the lofty heaven. There was much lore too in the sayings which were said by the Sybils; and holy, holy things were heard of old by the dim leaves that trembled around Dodona—but, as Allah liveth, that fable which the Demon told me as he sat by my side in the shadow of the tomb, I hold to be the most wonderful of all! And as the Demon made an end of his story, he fell back within the cavity of the tomb and laughed. And I could not laugh with the Demon, and he cursed me because I could not laugh. And the lynx which dwelleth forever in the tomb, came out therefrom, and lay down at the feet of the Demon, and looked at him steadily in the face.
I. There was a naughty boy, A naughty boy was he, He would not stop at home, He could not quiet be- He took In his knapsack A book Full of vowels And a shirt With some towels, A slight cap For night cap, A hair brush, Comb ditto, New stockings For old ones Would split O! This knapsack Tight at’s back He rivetted close And followed his nose To the north, To the north, And follow’d his nose To the north.
II. There was a naughty boy And a naughty boy was he, For nothing would he do But scribble poetry- He took An ink stand In his hand And a pen Big as ten In the other, And away In a pother He ran To the mountains And fountains And ghostes And postes And witches And ditches And wrote In his coat When the weather Was cool, Fear of gout, And without When the weather Was warm- Och the charm When we choose To follow one’s nose To the north, To the north, To follow one’s nose To the north!
III. There was a naughty boy And a naughty boy was he, He kept little fishes In washing tubs three In spite Of the might Of the maid Nor afraid Of his Granny-good- He often would Hurly burly Get up early And go By hook or crook To the brook And bring home Miller’s thumb, Tittlebat Not over fat, Minnows small As the stall Of a glove, Not above The size Of a nice Little baby’s Little fingers- O he made ‘Twas his trade Of fish a pretty kettle A kettle- A kettle Of fish a pretty kettle A kettle!
IV. There was a naughty boy, And a naughty boy was he, He ran away to Scotland The people for to see- There he found That the ground Was as hard, That a yard Was as long, That a song Was as merry, That a cherry Was as red, That lead Was as weighty, That fourscore Was as eighty, That a door Was as wooden As in England- So he stood in his shoes And he wonder’d, He wonder’d, He stood in his Shoes and he wonder’d.
In drear-nighted December Too happy, happy tree Thy branches ne’er remember Their green felicity: The north cannot undo them With a sleety whistle through them; Nor frozen thawings glue them From budding at the prime
In drear-nighted December Too happy, happy brook, Thy bubblings ne’er remember Apollo’s summer look; But with a sweet forgetting, They stay their crystal fretting, Never, never petting About the frozen time.
Ah! would ’twere so with many A gentle girl and boy! But were there ever any Writhed not at passed joy? The feel of not to feel it, When there is none to heal it Nor numbed sense to steel it, Was never said in rhyme.
O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell, Let it not be among the jumbled heap Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,— Nature’s observatory—whence the dell, Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell, May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep ’Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell. But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee, Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind, Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d, Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be Almost the highest bliss of human-kind, When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.
It keeps eternal whisperings around Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell Gluts twice ten thousand caverns, till the spell Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound. Often ’tis in such gentle temper found, That scarcely will the very smallest shell Be moved for days from whence it sometime fell, When last the winds of heaven were unbound. Oh ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired, Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea; Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude, Or fed too much with cloying melody,– Sit ye near some old cavern’s mouth, and brood, Until ye start, as if the sea-nymphs quired!