SONGS BEFORE SUNRISE
Dedication to Joseph Mazzini Prelude The Eve of Revolution A watch in the Night Super Flumina Babylonis The halt before Rome Mentana: First Anniversary Blessed among Women The Litany of Nations Hertha Before a crucifix Tenebrae Hymn of man The pilgrims Armand Barbes Quia Multum Amavit Genesis To Walt Whitman in America Christmas Antiphones A New Year's Message Mater Dolorosa Mater Triumphalis A Marching Song Siena Cor Cordium In San Lorenzo Tiresias The Song of the Standard On the Downs Messidor Ode on the Insurrection in Candia "Non Dolet" Eurydice An Appeal Perinde ac Cadaver Monotones The Oblation A Year's Burden Epilogue Notes
DEDICATION TO JOSEPH MAZZINI
Take, since you bade it should bear, These, of the seed of your sowing, Blossom or berry or weed. Sweet though they be not, or fair, That the dew of your word kept growing, Sweet at least was the seed.
Men bring you love-offerings of tears, And sorrow the kiss that assuages, And slaves the hate-offering of wrongs, And time the thanksgiving of years, And years the thanksgiving of ages; I bring you my handful of songs.
If a perfume be left, if a bloom, Let it live till Italia be risen, To be strewn in the dust of her car When her voice shall awake from the tomb England, and France from her prison, Sisters, a star by a star.
I bring you the sword of a song, The sword of my spirit's desire, Feeble; but laid at your feet, That which was weak shall be strong, That which was cold shall take fire, That which was bitter be sweet.
It was wrought not with hands to smite, Nor hewn after swordsmiths' fashion, Nor tempered on anvil of steel; But with visions and dreams of the night, But with hope, and the patience of passion, And the signet of love for a seal.
Be it witness, till one more strong, Till a loftier lyre, till a rarer Lute praise her better than I, Be it witness before you, my song, That I knew her, the world's banner-bearer, Who shall cry the republican cry.
Yea, even she as at first, Yea, she alone and none other, Shall cast down, shall build up, shall bring home; Slake earth's hunger and thirst, Lighten, and lead as a mother; First name of the world's names, Rome.
Between the green bud and the red Youth sat and sang by Time, and shed From eyes and tresses flowers and tears, From heart and spirit hopes and fears, Upon the hollow stream whose bed Is channelled by the foamless years; And with the white the gold-haired head Mixed running locks, and in Time's ears Youth's dreams hung singing, and Time's truth Was half not harsh in the ears of Youth.
Between the bud and the blown flower Youth talked with joy and grief an hour, With footless joy and wingless grief And twin-born faith and disbelief Who share the seasons to devour; And long ere these made up their sheaf Felt the winds round him shake and shower The rose-red and the blood-red leaf, Delight whose germ grew never grain, And passion dyed in its own pain.
Then he stood up, and trod to dust Fear and desire, mistrust and trust, And dreams of bitter sleep and sweet, And bound for sandals on his feet Knowledge and patience of what must And what things may be, in the heat And cold of years that rot and rust And alter; and his spirit's meat Was freedom, and his staff was wrought Of strength, and his cloak woven of thought.
For what has he whose will sees clear To do with doubt and faith and fear, Swift hopes and slow despondencies? His heart is equal with the sea's And with the sea-wind's, and his ear Is level to the speech of these, And his soul communes and takes cheer With the actual earth's equalities, Air, light, and night, hills, winds, and streams, And seeks not strength from strengthless dreams.
His soul is even with the sun Whose spirit and whose eye are one, Who seeks not stars by day, nor light And heavy heat of day by night. Him can no God cast down, whom none Can lift in hope beyond the height Of fate and nature and things done By the calm rule of might and right That bids men be and bear and do, And die beneath blind skies or blue.
To him the lights of even and morn Speak no vain things of love or scorn, Fancies and passions miscreate By man in things dispassionate. Nor holds he fellowship forlorn With souls that pray and hope and hate, And doubt they had better not been born, And fain would lure or scare off fate And charm their doomsman from their doom And make fear dig its own false tomb.
He builds not half of doubts and half Of dreams his own soul's cenotaph, Whence hopes and fears with helpless eyes, Wrapt loose in cast-off cerecloths, rise And dance and wring their hands and laugh, And weep thin tears and sigh light sighs, And without living lips would quaff The living spring in man that lies, And drain his soul of faith and strength It might have lived on a life's length.
He hath given himself and hath not sold To God for heaven or man for gold, Or grief for comfort that it gives, Or joy for grief's restoratives. He hath given himself to time, whose fold Shuts in the mortal flock that lives On its plain pasture's heat and cold And the equal year's alternatives. Earth, heaven, and time, death, life, and he, Endure while they shall be to be.
"Yet between death and life are hours To flush with love and hide in flowers; What profit save in these?" men cry: "Ah, see, between soft earth and sky, What only good things here are ours!" They say, "what better wouldst thou try, What sweeter sing of? or what powers Serve, that will give thee ere thou die More joy to sing and be less sad, More heart to play and grow more glad?"
Play then and sing; we too have played, We likewise, in that subtle shade. We too have twisted through our hair Such tendrils as the wild Loves wear, And heard what mirth the Maenads made, Till the wind blew our garlands bare And left their roses disarrayed, And smote the summer with strange air, And disengirdled and discrowned The limbs and locks that vine-wreaths bound.
We too have tracked by star-proof trees The tempest of the Thyiades Scare the loud night on hills that hid The blood-feasts of the Bassarid, Heard their song's iron cadences Fright the wolf hungering from the kid, Outroar the lion-throated seas, Outchide the north-wind if it chid, And hush the torrent-tongued ravines With thunders of their tambourines.
But the fierce flute whose notes acclaim Dim goddesses of fiery fame, Cymbal and clamorous kettledrum, Timbrels and tabrets, all are dumb That turned the high chill air to flame; The singing tongues of fire are numb That called on Cotys by her name Edonian, till they felt her come And maddened, and her mystic face Lightened along the streams of Thrace.
For Pleasure slumberless and pale, And Passion with rejected veil, Pass, and the tempest-footed throng Of hours that follow them with song Till their feet flag and voices fail, And lips that were so loud so long Learn silence, or a wearier wail; So keen is change, and time so strong, To weave the robes of life and rend And weave again till life have end.
But weak is change, but strengthless time, To take the light from heaven, or climb The hills of heaven with wasting feet. Songs they can stop that earth found meet, But the stars keep their ageless rhyme; Flowers they can slay that spring thought sweet, But the stars keep their spring sublime; Passions and pleasures can defeat, Actions and agonies control, And life and death, but not the soul.
Because man's soul is man's God still, What wind soever waft his will Across the waves of day and night To port or shipwreck, left or right, By shores and shoals of good and ill; And still its flame at mainmast height Through the rent air that foam-flakes fill Sustains the indomitable light Whence only man hath strength to steer Or helm to handle without fear.
Save his own soul's light overhead, None leads him, and none ever led, Across birth's hidden harbour-bar, Past youth where shoreward shallows are, Through age that drives on toward the red Vast void of sunset hailed from far, To the equal waters of the dead; Save his own soul he hath no star, And sinks, except his own soul guide, Helmless in middle turn of tide.
No blast of air or fire of sun Puts out the light whereby we run With girded loins our lamplit race, And each from each takes heart of grace And spirit till his turn be done, And light of face from each man's face In whom the light of trust is one; Since only souls that keep their place By their own light, and watch things roll, And stand, have light for any soul.
A little time we gain from time To set our seasons in some chime, For harsh or sweet or loud or low, With seasons played out long ago And souls that in their time and prime Took part with summer or with snow, Lived abject lives out or sublime, And had their chance of seed to sow For service or disservice done To those days daed and this their son.
A little time that we may fill Or with such good works or such ill As loose the bonds or make them strong Wherein all manhood suffers wrong. By rose-hung river and light-foot rill There are who rest not; who think long Till they discern as from a hill At the sun's hour of morning song, Known of souls only, and those souls free, The sacred spaces of the sea.
THE EVE OF REVOLUTION
The trumpets of the four winds of the world From the ends of the earth blow battle; the night heaves, With breasts palpitating and wings refurled, With passion of couched limbs, as one who grieves Sleeping, and in her sleep she sees uncurled Dreams serpent-shapen, such as sickness weaves, Down the wild wind of vision caught and whirled, Dead leaves of sleep, thicker than autumn leaves, Shadows of storm-shaped things, Flights of dim tribes of kings, The reaping men that reap men for their sheaves, And, without grain to yield, Their scythe-swept harvest-field Thronged thick with men pursuing and fugitives, Dead foliage of the tree of sleep, Leaves blood-coloured and golden, blown from deep to deep.
I hear the midnight on the mountains cry With many tongues of thunders, and I hear Sound and resound the hollow shield of sky With trumpet-throated winds that charge and cheer, And through the roar of the hours that fighting fly, Through flight and fight and all the fluctuant fear, A sound sublimer than the heavens are high, A voice more instant than the winds are clear, Say to my spirit, "Take Thy trumpet too, and make A rallying music in the void night's ear, Till the storm lose its track, And all the night go back; Till, as through sleep false life knows true life near, Thou know the morning through the night, And through the thunder silence, and through darkness light."
I set the trumpet to my lips and blow. The height of night is shaken, the skies break, The winds and stars and waters come and go By fits of breath and light and sound, that wake As out of sleep, and perish as the show Built up of sleep, when all her strengths forsake The sense-compelling spirit; the depths glow, The heights flash, and the roots and summits shake Of earth in all her mountains, And the inner foamless fountains And wellsprings of her fast-bound forces quake; Yea, the whole air of life Is set on fire of strife, Till change unmake things made and love remake; Reason and love, whose names are one, Seeing reason is the sunlight shed from love the sun.
The night is broken eastward; is it day, Or but the watchfires trembling here and there, Like hopes on memory's devastated way, In moonless wastes of planet-stricken air? O many-childed mother great and grey, O multitudinous bosom, and breasts that bare Our fathers' generations, whereat lay The weanling peoples and the tribes that were, Whose new-born mouths long dead Those ninefold nipples fed, Dim face with deathless eyes and withered hair, Fostress of obscure lands, Whose multiplying hands Wove the world's web with divers races fair And cast it waif-wise on the stream, The waters of the centuries, where thou sat'st to dream;
O many-minded mother and visionary, Asia, that sawest their westering waters sweep With all the ships and spoils of time to carry And all the fears and hopes of life to keep, Thy vesture wrought of ages legendary Hides usward thine impenetrable sleep, And thy veiled head, night's oldest tributary, We know not if it speak or smile or weep. But where for us began The first live light of man And first-born fire of deeds to burn and leap, The first war fair as peace To shine and lighten Greece, And the first freedom moved upon the deep, God's breath upon the face of time Moving, a present spirit, seen of men sublime;
There where our east looks always to thy west, Our mornings to thine evenings, Greece to thee, These lights that catch the mountains crest by crest, Are they of stars or beacons that we see? Taygetus takes here the winds abreast, And there the sun resumes Thermopylae; The light is Athens where those remnants rest, And Salamis the sea-wall of that sea. The grass men tread upon Is very Marathon, The leaves are of that time-unstricken tree That storm nor sun can fret Nor wind, since she that set Made it her sign to men whose shield was she; Here, as dead time his deathless things, Eurotas and Cephisus keep their sleepless springs.
O hills of Crete, are these things dead? O waves, O many-mouthed streams, are these springs dry? Earth, dost thou feed and hide now none but slaves? Heaven, hast thou heard of men that would not die? Is the land thick with only such men's graves As were ashamed to look upon the sky? Ye dead, whose name outfaces and outbraves Death, is the seed of such as you gone by? Sea, have thy ports not heard Some Marathonian word Rise up to landward and to Godward fly? No thunder, that the skies Sent not upon us, rise With fire and earthquake and a cleaving cry? Nay, light is here, and shall be light, Though all the face of the hour be overborne with night.
I set the trumpet to my lips and blow. The night is broken northward; the pale plains And footless fields of sun-forgotten snow Feel through their creviced lips and iron veins Such quick breath labour and such clean blood flow As summer-stricken spring feels in her pains When dying May bears June, too young to know The fruit that waxes from the flower that wanes; Strange tyrannies and vast, Tribes frost-bound to their past, Lands that are loud all through their length with chains, Wastes where the wind's wings break, Displumed by daylong ache And anguish of blind snows and rack-blown rains, And ice that seals the White Sea's lips, Whose monstrous weights crush flat the sides of shrieking ships;
Horrible sights and sounds of the unreached pole, And shrill fierce climes of inconsolable air, Shining below the beamless aureole That hangs about the north-wind's hurtling hair, A comet-lighted lamp, sublime and sole Dawn of the dayless heaven where suns despair; Earth, skies, and waters, smitten into soul, Feel the hard veil that iron centuries wear Rent as with hands in sunder, Such hands as make the thunder And clothe with form all substance and strip bare; Shapes, shadows, sounds and lights Of their dead days and nights Take soul of life too keen for death to bear; Life, conscience, forethought, will, desire, Flood men's inanimate eyes and dry-drawn hearts with fire.
Light, light, and light! to break and melt in sunder All clouds and chains that in one bondage bind Eyes, hands, and spirits, forged by fear and wonder And sleek fierce fraud with hidden knife behind; There goes no fire from heaven before their thunder, Nor are the links not malleable that wind Round the snared limbs and souls that ache thereunder; The hands are mighty, were the head not blind. Priest is the staff of king, And chains and clouds one thing, And fettered flesh with devastated mind. Open thy soul to see, Slave, and thy feet are free; Thy bonds and thy beliefs are one in kind, And of thy fears thine irons wrought Hang weights upon thee fashioned out of thine own thought.
O soul, O God, O glory of liberty, To night and day their lightning and their light! With heat of heart thou kindlest the quick sea, And the dead earth takes spirit from thy sight; The natural body of things is warm with thee, And the world's weakness parcel of thy might; Thou seest us feeble and forceless, fit to be Slaves of the years that drive us left and right, Drowned under hours like waves Wherethrough we row like slaves; But if thy finger touch us, these take flight. If but one sovereign word Of thy live lips be heard, What man shall stop us, and what God shall smite? Do thou but look in our dead eyes, They are stars that light each other till thy sundawn rise.
Thou art the eye of this blind body of man, The tongue of this dumb people; shalt thou not See, shalt thou speak not for them? Time is wan And hope is weak with waiting, and swift thought Hath lost the wings at heel wherewith he ran, And on the red pit's edge sits down distraught To talk with death of days republican And dreams and fights long since dreamt out and fought; Of the last hope that drew To that red edge anew The firewhite faith of Poland without spot; Of the blind Russian might, And fire that is not light; Of the green Rhineland where thy spirit wrought; But though time, hope, and memory tire, Canst thou wax dark as they do, thou whose light is fire?
I set the trumpet to my lips and blow. The night is broken westward; the wide sea That makes immortal motion to and fro From world's end unto world's end, and shall be When nought now grafted of men's hands shall grow And as the weed in last year's waves are we Or spray the sea-wind shook a year ago From its sharp tresses down the storm to lee, The moving god that hides Time in its timeless tides Wherein time dead seems live eternity, That breaks and makes again Much mightier things than men, Doth it not hear change coming, or not see? Are the deeps deaf and dead and blind, To catch no light or sound from landward of mankind?
O thou, clothed round with raiment of white waves, Thy brave brows lightening through the grey wet air, Thou, lulled with sea-sounds of a thousand caves, And lit with sea-shine to thine inland lair, Whose freedom clothed the naked souls of slaves And stripped the muffled souls of tyrants bare, O, by the centuries of thy glorious graves, By the live light of the earth that was thy care, Live, thou must not be dead, Live; let thine armed head Lift itself up to sunward and the fair Daylight of time and man, Thine head republican, With the same splendour on thine helmless hair That in his eyes kept up a light Who on thy glory gazed away their sacred sight;
Who loved and looked their sense to death on thee; Who taught thy lips imperishable things, And in thine ears outsang thy singing sea; Who made thy foot firm on the necks of kings And thy soul somewhile steadfast—woe are we It was but for a while, and all the strings Were broken of thy spirit; yet had he Set to such tunes and clothed it with such wings It seemed for his sole sake Impossible to break, And woundless of the worm that waits and stings, The golden-headed worm Made headless for a term, The king-snake whose life kindles with the spring's, To breathe his soul upon her bloom, And while she marks not turn her temple to her tomb.
By those eyes blinded and that heavenly head And the secluded soul adorable, O Milton's land, what ails thee to be dead? Thine ears are yet sonorous with his shell That all the songs of all thy sea-line fed With motive sound of spring-tides at mid swell, And through thine heart his thought as blood is shed, Requickening thee with wisdom to do well; Such sons were of thy womb, England, for love of whom Thy name is not yet writ with theirs that fell, But, till thou quite forget What were thy children, yet On the pale lips of hope is as a spell; And Shelley's heart and Landor's mind Lit thee with latter watch-fires; why wilt thou be blind?
Though all were else indifferent, all that live Spiritless shapes of nations; though time wait In vain on hope till these have help to give, And faith and love crawl famished from the gate; Canst thou sit shamed and self-contemplative With soulless eyes on thy secluded fate? Though time forgive them, thee shall he forgive, Whose choice was in thine hand to be so great? Who cast out of thy mind The passion of man's kind, And made thee and thine old name separate? Now when time looks to see New names and old and thee Build up our one Republic state by state, England with France, and France with Spain, And Spain with sovereign Italy strike hands and reign.
O known and unknown fountain-heads that fill Our dear life-springs of England! O bright race Of streams and waters that bear witness still To the earth her sons were made of! O fair face Of England, watched of eyes death cannot kill, How should the soul that lit you for a space Fall through sick weakness of a broken will To the dead cold damnation of disgrace? Such wind of memory stirs On all green hills of hers, Such breath of record from so high a place, From years whose tongues of flame Prophesied in her name Her feet should keep truth's bright and burning trace, We needs must have her heart with us, Whose hearts are one with man's; she must be dead or thus.
Who is against us? who is on our side? Whose heart of all men's hearts is one with man's? Where art thou that wast prophetess and bride, When truth and thou trod under time and chance? What latter light of what new hope shall guide Out of the snares of hell thy feet, O France? What heel shall bruise these heads that hiss and glide, What wind blow out these fen-born fires that dance Before thee to thy death? No light, no life, no breath, From thy dead eyes and lips shall take the trance, Till on that deadliest crime Reddening the feet of time Who treads through blood and passes, time shall glance Pardon, and Italy forgive, And Rome arise up whom thou slewest, and bid thee live.
I set the trumpet to my lips and blow. The night is broken southward; the springs run, The daysprings and the watersprings that flow Forth with one will from where their source was one, Out of the might of morning: high and low, The hungering hills feed full upon the sun, The thirsting valleys drink of him and glow As a heart burns with some divine thing done, Or as blood burns again In the bruised heart of Spain, A rose renewed with red new life begun, Dragged down with thorns and briers, That puts forth buds like fires Till the whole tree take flower in unison, And prince that clogs and priest that clings Be cast as weeds upon the dunghill of dead things.
Ah heaven, bow down, be nearer! This is she, Italia, the world's wonder, the world's care, Free in her heart ere quite her hands be free, And lovelier than her loveliest robe of air. The earth hath voice, and speech is in the sea, Sounds of great joy, too beautiful to bear; All things are glad because of her, but we Most glad, who loved her when the worst days were. O sweetest, fairest, first, O flower, when times were worst, Thou hadst no stripe wherein we had no share. Have not our hearts held close, Kept fast the whole world's rose? Have we not worn thee at heart whom none would wear? First love and last love, light of lands, Shall we not touch thee full-blown with our lips and hands?
O too much loved, what shall we say of thee? What shall we make of our heart's burning fire, The passion in our lives that fain would be Made each a brand to pile into the pyre That shall burn up thy foemen, and set free The flame whence thy sun-shadowing wings aspire? Love of our life, what more than men are we, That this our breath for thy sake should expire, For whom to joyous death Glad gods might yield their breath, Great gods drop down from heaven to serve for hire? We are but men, are we, And thou art Italy; What shall we do for thee with our desire? What gift shall we deserve to give? How shall we die to do thee service, or how live?
The very thought in us how much we love thee Makes the throat sob with love and blinds the eyes. How should love bear thee, to behold above thee His own light burning from reverberate skies? They give thee light, but the light given them of thee Makes faint the wheeling fires that fall and rise. What love, what life, what death of man's should move thee, What face that lingers or what foot that flies? It is not heaven that lights Thee with such days and nights, But thou that heaven is lit from in such wise. O thou her dearest birth, Turn thee to lighten earth, Earth too that bore thee and yearns to thee and cries; Stand up, shine, lighten, become flame, Till as the sun's name through all nations be thy name.
I take the trumpet from my lips and sing. O life immeasurable and imminent love, And fear like winter leading hope like spring, Whose flower-bright brows the day-star sits above, Whose hand unweariable and untiring wing Strike music from a world that wailed and strove, Each bright soul born and every glorious thing, From very freedom to man's joy thereof, O time, O change and death, Whose now not hateful breath But gives the music swifter feet to move Through sharp remeasuring tones Of refluent antiphones More tender-tuned than heart or throat of dove, Soul into soul, song into song, Life changing into life, by laws that work not wrong;
O natural force in spirit and sense, that art One thing in all things, fruit of thine own fruit, O thought illimitable and infinite heart Whose blood is life in limbs indissolute That still keeps hurtless thine invisible part And inextirpable thy viewless root Whence all sweet shafts of green and each thy dart Of sharpening leaf and bud resundering shoot; Hills that the day-star hails, Heights that the first beam scales, And heights that souls outshining suns salute, Valleys for each mouth born Free now of plenteous corn, Waters and woodlands' musical or mute; Free winds that brighten brows as free, And thunder and laughter and lightning of the sovereign sea;
Rivers and springs, and storms that seek your prey; With strong wings ravening through the skies by night; Spirits and stars that hold one choral way; O light of heaven, and thou the heavenlier light Aflame above the souls of men that sway All generations of all years with might; O sunrise of the repossessing day, And sunrise of all-renovating right; And thou, whose trackless foot Mocks hope's or fear's pursuit, Swift Revolution, changing depth with height; And thou, whose mouth makes one All songs that seek the sun, Serene Republic of a world made white; Thou, Freedom, whence the soul's springs ran; Praise earth for man's sake living, and for earth's sake man.
Make yourselves wings, O tarrying feet of fate, And hidden hour that hast our hope to bear, A child-god, through the morning-coloured gate That lets love in upon the golden air, Dead on whose threshold lies heart-broken hate, Dead discord, dead injustice, dead despair; O love long looked for, wherefore wilt thou wait, And shew not yet the dawn on thy bright hair. Not yet thine hand released Refreshing the faint east, Thine hand reconquering heaven, to seat man there? Come forth, be born and live, Thou that hast help to give And light to make man's day of manhood fair: With flight outflying the sphered sun, Hasten thine hour and halt not, till thy work be done.
A WATCH IN THE NIGHT
Watchman, what of the night? - Storm and thunder and rain, Lights that waver and wane, Leaving the watchfires unlit. Only the balefires are bright, And the flash of the lamps now and then From a palace where spoilers sit, Trampling the children of men.
Prophet, what of the night? - I stand by the verge of the sea, Banished, uncomforted, free, Hearing the noise of the waves And sudden flashes that smite Some man's tyrannous head, Thundering, heard among graves That hide the hosts of his dead.
Mourners, what of the night? - All night through without sleep We weep, and we weep, and we weep. Who shall give us our sons? Beaks of raven and kite, Mouths of wolf and of hound, Give us them back whom the guns Shot for you dead on the ground.
Dead men, what of the night? - Cannon and scaffold and sword, Horror of gibbet and cord, Mowed us as sheaves for the grave, Mowed us down for the right. We do not grudge or repent. Freely to freedom we gave Pledges, till life should be spent.
Statesman, what of the night? - The night will last me my time. The gold on a crown or a crime Looks well enough yet by the lamps. Have we not fingers to write, Lips to swear at a need? Then, when danger decamps, Bury the word with the deed.
Warrior, what of the night? - Whether it be not or be Night, is as one thing to me. I for one, at the least, Ask not of dews if they blight, Ask not of flames if they slay, Ask not of prince or of priest How long ere we put them away.
Master, what of the night? - Child, night is not at all Anywhere, fallen or to fall, Save in our star-stricken eyes. Forth of our eyes it takes flight, Look we but once nor before Nor behind us, but straight on the skies; Night is not then any more.
Exile, what of the night? - The tides and the hours run out, The seasons of death and of doubt, The night-watches bitter and sore. In the quicksands leftward and right My feet sink down under me; But I know the scents of the shore And the broad blown breaths of the sea.
Captives, what of the night? - It rains outside overhead Always, a rain that is red, And our faces are soiled with the rain. Here in the seasons' despite Day-time and night-time are one, Till the curse of the kings and the chain Break, and their toils be undone.
Christian, what of the night? - I cannot tell; I am blind. I halt and hearken behind If haply the hours will go back And return to the dear dead light, To the watchfires and stars that of old Shone where the sky now is black, Glowed where the earth now is cold.
High priest, what of the night? - The night is horrible here With haggard faces and fear, Blood, and the burning of fire. Mine eyes are emptied of sight, Mine hands are full of the dust. If the God of my faith be a liar, Who is it that I shall trust?
Princes, what of the night? - Night with pestilent breath Feeds us, children of death, Clothes us close with her gloom. Rapine and famine and fright Crouch at our feet and are fed. Earth where we pass is a tomb, Life where we triumph is dead.
Martyrs, what of the night? - Nay, is it night with you yet? We, for our part, we forget What night was, if it were. The loud red mouths of the fight Are silent and shut where we are. In our eyes the tempestuous air Shines as the face of a star.
England, what of the night? - Night is for slumber and sleep, Warm, no season to weep. Let me alone till the day. Sleep would I still if I might, Who have slept for two hundred years. Once I had honour, they say; But slumber is sweeter than tears.
France, what of the night? - Night is the prostitute's noon, Kissed and drugged till she swoon, Spat upon, trod upon, whored. With bloodred rose-garlands dight, Round me reels in the dance Death, my saviour, my lord, Crowned; there is no more France.
Italy, what of the night? - Ah, child, child, it is long! Moonbeam and starbeam and song Leave it dumb now and dark. Yet I perceive on the height Eastward, not now very far, A song too loud for the lark, A light too strong for a star.
Germany, what of the night? - Long has it lulled me with dreams; Now at midwatch, as it seems, Light is brought back to mine eyes, And the mastery of old and the might Lives in the joints of mine hands, Steadies my limbs as they rise, Strengthens my foot as it stands.
Europe, what of the night? - Ask of heaven, and the sea, And my babes on the bosom of me, Nations of mine, but ungrown. There is one who shall surely requite All that endure or that err: She can answer alone: Ask not of me, but of her.
Liberty, what of the night? - I feel not the red rains fall, Hear not the tempest at all, Nor thunder in heaven any more. All the distance is white With the soundless feet of the sun. Night, with the woes that it wore, Night is over and done.
SUPER FLUMINA BABYLONIS
By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, Remembering thee, That for ages of agony hast endured, and slept, And wouldst not see.
By the waters of Babylon we stood up and sang, Considering thee, That a blast of deliverance in the darkness rang, To set thee free.
And with trumpets and thunderings and with morning song Came up the light; And thy spirit uplifted thee to forget thy wrong As day doth night.
And thy sons were dejected not any more, as then When thou wast shamed; When thy lovers went heavily without heart, as men Whose life was maimed.
In the desolate distances, with a great desire, For thy love's sake, With our hearts going back to thee, they were filled with fire, Were nigh to break.
It was said to us: "Verily ye are great of heart, But ye shall bend; Ye are bondmen and bondwomen, to be scourged and smart, To toil and tend."
And with harrows men harrowed us, and subdued with spears, And crushed with shame; And the summer and winter was, and the length of years, And no change came.
By the rivers of Italy, by the sacred streams, By town, by tower, There was feasting with revelling, there was sleep with dreams, Until thine hour.
And they slept and they rioted on their rose-hung beds, With mouths on flame, And with love-locks vine-chapleted, and with rose-crowned heads And robes of shame.
And they knew not their forefathers, nor the hills and streams And words of power, Nor the gods that were good to them, but with songs and dreams Filled up their hour.
By the rivers of Italy, by the dry streams' beds, When thy time came, There was casting of crowns from them, from their young men's heads, The crowns of shame.
By the horn of Eridanus, by the Tiber mouth, As thy day rose, They arose up and girded them to the north and south, By seas, by snows.
As a water in January the frost confines, Thy kings bound thee; As a water in April is, in the new-blown vines, Thy sons made free.
And thy lovers that looked for thee, and that mourned from far, For thy sake dead, We rejoiced in the light of thee, in the signal star Above thine head.
In thy grief had we followed thee, in thy passion loved, Loved in thy loss; In thy shame we stood fast to thee, with thy pangs were moved, Clung to thy cross.
By the hillside of Calvary we beheld thy blood, Thy bloodred tears, As a mother's in bitterness, an unebbing flood, Years upon years.
And the north was Gethsemane, without leaf or bloom, A garden sealed; And the south was Aceldama, for a sanguine fume Hid all the field.
By the stone of the sepulchre we returned to weep, From far, from prison; And the guards by it keeping it we beheld asleep, But thou wast risen.
And an angel's similitude by the unsealed grave, And by the stone: And the voice was angelical, to whose words God gave Strength like his own.
"Lo, the graveclothes of Italy that are folded up In the grave's gloom! And the guards as men wrought upon with a charmed cup, By the open tomb.
"And her body most beautiful, and her shining head, These are not here; For your mother, for Italy, is not surely dead: Have ye no fear.
"As of old time she spake to you, and you hardly heard, Hardly took heed, So now also she saith to you, yet another word, Who is risen indeed.
"By my saying she saith to you, in your ears she saith, Who hear these things, Put no trust in men's royalties, nor in great men's breath, Nor words of kings.
"For the life of them vanishes and is no more seen, Nor no more known; Nor shall any remember him if a crown hath been, Or where a throne.
"Unto each man his handiwork, unto each his crown, The just Fate gives; Whoso takes the world's life on him and his own lays down, He, dying so, lives.
"Whoso bears the whole heaviness of the wronged world's weight And puts it by, It is well with him suffering, though he face man's fate; How should he die?
"Seeing death has no part in him any more, no power Upon his head; He has bought his eternity with a little hour, And is not dead.
"For an hour, if ye look for him, he is no more found, For one hour's space; Then ye lift up your eyes to him and behold him crowned, A deathless face.
"On the mountains of memory, by the world's wellsprings, In all men's eyes, Where the light of the life of him is on all past things, Death only dies.
"Not the light that was quenched for us, nor the deeds that were, Nor the ancient days, Nor the sorrows not sorrowful, nor the face most fair Of perfect praise."
So the angel of Italy's resurrection said, So yet he saith; So the son of her suffering, that from breasts nigh dead Drew life, not death.
That the pavement of Golgotha should be white as snow, Not red, but white; That the waters of Babylon should no longer flow, And men see light.
THE HALT BEFORE ROME—SEPTEMBER 1867
Is it so, that the sword is broken, Our sword, that was halfway drawn? Is it so, that the light was a spark, That the bird we hailed as the lark Sang in her sleep in the dark, And the song we took for a token Bore false witness of dawn?
Spread in the sight of the lion, Surely, we said, is the net Spread but in vain, and the snare Vain; for the light is aware, And the common, the chainless air, Of his coming whom all we cry on; Surely in vain is it set.
Surely the day is on our side, And heaven, and the sacred sun; Surely the stars, and the bright Immemorial inscrutable night: Yea, the darkness, because of our light, Is no darkness, but blooms as a bower-side When the winter is over and done;
Blooms underfoot with young grasses Green, and with leaves overhead, Windflowers white, and the low New-dropped blossoms of snow; And or ever the May winds blow, And or ever the March wind passes, Flames with anemones red.
We are here in the world's bower-garden, We that have watched out the snow. Surely the fruitfuller showers, The splendider sunbeams are ours; Shall winter return on the flowers, And the frost after April harden, And the fountains in May not flow?
We have in our hands the shining And the fire in our hearts of a star. Who are we that our tongues should palter, Hearts bow down, hands falter, Who are clothed as with flame from the altar, That the kings of the earth, repining, Far off, watch from afar?
Woe is ours if we doubt or dissemble, Woe, if our hearts not abide. Are our chiefs not among us, we said, Great chiefs, living and dead, To lead us glad to be led? For whose sake, if a man of us tremble, He shall not be on our side.
What matter if these lands tarry, That tarried (we said) not of old? France, made drunken by fate, England, that bore up the weight Once of men's freedom, a freight Holy, but heavy to carry For hands overflowing with gold.
Though this be lame, and the other Fleet, but blind from the sun, And the race be no more to these, Alas! nor the palm to seize, Who are weary and hungry of ease, Yet, O Freedom, we said, O our mother, Is there not left to thee one?
Is there not left of thy daughters, Is there not one to thine hand? Fairer than these, and of fame Higher from of old by her name; Washed in her tears, and in flame Bathed as in baptism of waters, Unto all men a chosen land.
Her hope in her heart was broken, Fire was upon her, and clomb, Hiding her, high as her head; And the world went past her, and said (We heard it say) she was dead; And now, behold, she bath spoken, She that was dead, saying, "Rome."
O mother of all men's nations, Thou knowest if the deaf world heard! Heard not now to her lowest Depths, where the strong blood slowest Beats at her bosom, thou knowest, In her toils, in her dim tribulations, Rejoiced not, hearing the word.
The sorrowful, bound unto sorrow, The woe-worn people, and all That of old were discomforted, And men that famish for bread, And men that mourn for their dead, She bade them be glad on the morrow, Who endured in the day of her thrall.
The blind, and the people in prison, Souls without hope, without home, How glad were they all that heard! When the winged white flame of the word Passed over men's dust, and stirred Death; for Italia was risen, And risen her light upon Rome.
The light of her sword in the gateway Shone, an unquenchable flame, Bloodless, a sword to release, A light from the eyes of peace, To bid grief utterly cease, And the wrong of the old world straightway Pass from the face of her fame:
Hers, whom we turn to and cry on, Italy, mother of men: From the light of the face of her glory, At the sound of the storm of her story, That the sanguine shadows and hoary Should flee from the foot of the lion, Lion-like, forth of his den.
As the answering of thunder to thunder Is the storm-beaten sound of her past; As the calling of sea unto sea Is the noise of her years yet to be; For this ye knew not is she, Whose bonds are broken in sunder; This is she at the last.
So spake we aloud, high-minded, Full of our will; and behold, The speech that was halfway spoken Breaks, as a pledge that is broken, As a king's pledge, leaving in token Grief only for high hopes blinded, New grief grafted on old.
We halt by the walls of the city, Within sound of the clash of her chain. Hearing, we know that in there The lioness chafes in her lair, Shakes the storm of her hair, Struggles in hands without pity, Roars to the lion in vain.
Whose hand is stretched forth upon her? Whose curb is white with her foam? Clothed with the cloud of his deeds, Swathed in the shroud of his creeds, Who is this that has trapped her and leads, Who turns to despair and dishonour Her name, her name that was Rome?
Over fields without harvest or culture, Over hordes without honour or love, Over nations that groan with their kings, As an imminent pestilence flings Swift death from her shadowing wings, So he, who hath claws as a vulture, Plumage and beak as a dove.
He saith, "I am pilot and haven, Light and redemption I am Unto souls overlaboured," he saith; And to all men the blast of his breath Is a savour of death unto death; And the Dove of his worship a raven, And a wolf-cub the life-giving Lamb.
He calls his sheep as a shepherd, Calls from the wilderness home, "Come unto me and be fed," To feed them with ashes for bread And grass from the graves of the dead, Leaps on the fold as a leopard, Slays, and says, "I am Rome,"
Rome, having rent her in sunder, With the clasp of an adder he clasps; Swift to shed blood are his feet, And his lips, that have man for their meat, Smoother than oil, and more sweet Than honey, but hidden thereunder Festers the poison of asps.
As swords are his tender mercies, His kisses as mortal stings; Under his hallowing hands Life dies down in all lands; Kings pray to him, prone where he stands, And his blessings, as other men's curses, Disanoint where they consecrate kings.
With an oil of unclean consecration, With effusion of blood and of tears, With uplifting of cross and of keys, Priest, though thou hallow us these, Yet even as they cling to thy knees Nation awakens by nation, King by king disappears.
How shall the spirit be loyal To the shell of a spiritless thing? Erred once, in only a word, The sweet great song that we heard Poured upon Tuscany, erred, Calling a crowned man royal That was no more than a king.
Sea-eagle of English feather, A song-bird beautiful-souled, She knew not them that she sang; The golden trumpet that rang From Florence, in vain for them, sprang As a note in the nightingales' weather Far over Fiesole rolled.
She saw not—happy, not seeing - Saw not as we with her eyes Aspromonte; she felt Never the heart in her melt As in us when the news was dealt Melted all hope out of being, Dropped all dawn from the skies.
In that weary funereal season, In that heart-stricken grief-ridden time, The weight of a king and the worth, With anger and sorrowful mirth, We weighed in the balance of earth, And light was his word as a treason, And heavy his crown as a crime.
Banners of kings shall ye follow None, and have thrones on your side None; ye shall gather and grow Silently, row upon row, Chosen of Freedom to go Gladly where darkness may swallow, Gladly where death may divide.
Have we not men with us royal, Men the masters of things? In the days when our life is made new, All souls perfect and true Shall adore whom their forefathers slew; And these indeed shall be loyal, And those indeed shall be kings.
Yet for a space they abide with us, Yet for a little they stand, Bearing the heat of the day. When their presence is taken away, We shall wonder and worship, and say, "Was not a star on our side with us? Was not a God at our hand?"
These, O men, shall ye honour, Liberty only, and these. For thy sake and for all men's and mine, Brother, the crowns of them shine Lighting the way to her shrine, That our eyes may be fastened upon her, That our hands may encompass her knees.
In this day is the sign of her shown to you; Choose ye, to live or to die, Now is her harvest in hand; Now is her light in the land; Choose ye, to sink or to stand, For the might of her strength is made known to you Now, and her arm is on high.
Serve not for any man's wages, Pleasure nor glory nor gold; Not by her side are they won Who saith unto each of you, "Son, Silver and gold have I none; I give but the love of all ages, And the life of my people of old."
Fear not for any man's terrors; Wait not for any man's word; Patiently, each in his place, Gird up your loins to the race; Following the print of her pace, Purged of desires and of errors, March to the tune ye have heard.
March to the tune of the voice of her, Breathing the balm of her breath, Loving the light of her skies. Blessed is he on whose eyes Dawns but her light as he dies; Blessed are ye that make choice of her, Equal to life and to death.
Ye that when faith is nigh frozen, Ye that when hope is nigh gone, Still, over wastes, over waves, Still, among wrecks, among graves, Follow the splendour that saves, Happy, her children, her chosen, Loyally led of her on.
The sheep of the priests, and the cattle That feed in the penfolds of kings, Sleek is their flock and well-fed; Hardly she giveth you bread, Hardly a rest for the head, Till the day of the blast of the battle And the storm of the wind of her wings.
Ye that have joy in your living, Ye that are careful to live, You her thunders go by: Live, let men be, let them lie, Serve your season, and die; Gifts have your masters for giving, Gifts hath not Freedom to give;
She, without shelter or station, She, beyond limit or bar, Urges to slumberless speed Armies that famish, that bleed, Sowing their lives for her seed, That their dust may rebuild her a nation, That their souls may relight her a star.
Happy are all they that follow her; Them shall no trouble cast down; Though she slay them, yet shall they trust in her, For unsure there is nought nor unjust in her, Blemish is none, neither rust in her; Though it threaten, the night shall not swallow her, Tempest and storm shall not drown.
Hither, O strangers, that cry for her, Holding your lives in your hands, Hither, for here is your light, Where Italy is, and her might; Strength shall be given you to fight, Grace shall be given you to die for her, For the flower, for the lady of lands;
Turn ye, whose anguish oppressing you Crushes, asleep and awake, For the wrong which is wrought as of yore; That Italia may give of her store, Having these things to give and no more; Only her hands on you, blessing you; Only a pang for her sake;
Only her bosom to die on; Only her heart for a home, And a name with her children to be From Calabrian to Adrian sea Famous in cities made free That ring to the roar of the lion Proclaiming republican Rome.
MENTANA: FIRST ANNIVERSARY
At the time when the stars are grey, And the gold of the molten moon Fades, and the twilight is thinned, And the sun leaps up, and the wind, A light rose, not of the day, A stronger light than of noon.
As the light of a face much loved Was the face of the light that clomb; As a mother's whitened with woes Her adorable head that arose; As the sound of a God that is moved, Her voice went forth upon Rome.
At her lips it fluttered and failed Twice, and sobbed into song, And sank as a flame sinks under; Then spake, and the speech was thunder, And the cheek as he heard it paled Of the wrongdoer grown grey with the wrong.
"Is it time, is it time appointed, Angel of time, is it near? For the spent night aches into day When the kings shall slay not or pray, And the high-priest, accursed and anointed, Sickens to deathward with fear.
"For the bones of my slain are stirred, And the seed of my earth in her womb Moves as the heart of a bud Beating with odorous blood To the tune of the loud first bird Burns and yearns into bloom.
"I lay my hand on her bosom, My hand on the heart of my earth, And I feel as with shiver and sob The triumphant heart in her throb, The dead petals dilate into blossom, The divine blood beat into birth.
"O my earth, are the springs in thee dry? O sweet, is thy body a tomb? Nay, springs out of springs derive, And summers from summers alive, And the living from them that die; No tomb is here, but a womb.
"O manifold womb and divine, Give me fruit of my children, give! I have given thee my dew for thy root, Give thou me for my mouth of thy fruit; Thine are the dead that are mine, And mine are thy sons that live.
"O goodly children, O strong Italian spirits, that wear My glories as garments about you, Could time or the world misdoubt you, Behold, in disproof of the wrong, The field of the grave-pits there.
"And ye that fell upon sleep, We have you too with us yet. Fairer than life or than youth Is this, to die for the truth: No death can sink you so deep As their graves whom their brethren forget.
"Were not your pains as my pains? As my name are your names not divine? Was not the light in your eyes Mine, the light of my skies, And the sweet shed blood of your veins, O my beautiful martyrs, mine?
"Of mine earth were your dear limbs made, Of mine air was your sweet life's breath; At the breasts of my love ye were fed, O my children, my chosen, my dead, At my breasts where again ye are laid, At the old mother's bosom, in death.
"But ye that live, O their brothers, Be ye to me as they were; Give me, my children that live, What these dead grudged not to give, Who alive were sons of your mother's, Whose lips drew breath of your air.
"Till darkness by dawn be cloven, Let youth's self mourn and abstain; And love's self find not an hour, And spring's self wear not a flower, And Lycoris, with hair unenwoven, Hail back to the banquet in vain.
"So sooner and surer the glory That is not with us shall be, And stronger the hands that smite The heads of the sons of night, And the sound throughout earth of our story Give all men heart to be free."
BLESSED AMONG WOMEN—TO THE SIGNORA CAIROLI
Blessed was she that bare, Hidden in flesh most fair, For all men's sake the likeness of all love; Holy that virgin's womb, The old record saith, on whom The glory of God alighted as a dove; Blessed, who brought to gracious birth The sweet-souled Saviour of a man-tormented earth.
But four times art thou blest, At whose most holy breast Four times a godlike soldier-saviour hung; And thence a fourfold Christ Given to be sacrificed To the same cross as the same bosom clung; Poured the same blood, to leave the same Light on the many-folded mountain-skirts of fame.
Shall they and thou not live, The children thou didst give Forth of thine hands, a godlike gift, to death, Through fire of death to pass For her high sake that was Thine and their mother, that gave all you breath? Shall ye not live till time drop dead, O mother, and each her children's consecrated head?
Many brought gifts to take For her love's supreme sake, Life and life's love, pleasure and praise and rest, And went forth bare; but thou, So much once richer, and now Poorer than all these, more than these be blest; Poorer so much, by so much given, Than who gives earth for heaven's sake, not for earth's sake heaven.
Somewhat could each soul save, What thing soever it gave, But thine, mother, what has thy soul kept back? None of thine all, not one, To serve thee and be thy son, Feed with love all thy days, lest one day lack; All thy whole life's love, thine heart's whole, Thou hast given as who gives gladly, O thou the supreme soul.
The heart's pure flesh and blood, The heaven thy motherhood, The live lips, the live eyes, that lived on thee; The hands that clove with sweet Blind clutch to thine, the feet That felt on earth their first way to thy knee; The little laughter of mouths milk-fed, Now open again to feed on dust among the dead;
The fair, strong, young men's strength, Light of life-days and length, And glory of earth seen under and stars above, And years that bring to tame Now the wild falcon fame, Now, to stroke smooth, the dove-white breast of love; The life unlived, the unsown seeds, Suns unbeholden, songs unsung, and undone deeds.
Therefore shall man's love be As an own son to thee, And the world's worship of thee for a child; All thine own land as one New-born, a nursing son, All thine own people a new birth undefiled; And all the unborn Italian time, And all its glory, and all its works, thy seed sublime.
That henceforth no man's breath, Saying "Italy," but saith In that most sovereign word thine equal name; Nor can one speak of thee But he saith "Italy," Seeing in two suns one co-eternal flame; One heat, one heaven, one heart, one fire, One light, one love, one benediction, one desire.
Blest above praise and prayer And incense of men's air, Thy place is higher than where such voices rise As in men's temples make Music for some vain sake, This God's or that God's, in one weary wise; Thee the soul silent, the shut heart, The locked lips of the spirit praise thee that thou art.
Yea, for man's whole life's length, And with man's whole soul's strength, We praise thee, O holy, and bless thee, O mother of lights; And send forth as on wings The world's heart's thanksgivings, Song-birds to sing thy days through and thy nights; And wrap thee around and arch thee above With the air of benediction and the heaven of love.
And toward thee our unbreathed words Fly speechless, winged as birds, As the Indian flock, children of Paradise, The winged things without feet, Fed with God's dew for meat, That live in the air and light of the utter skies; So fleet, so flying a footless flight, With wings for feet love seeks thee, to partake thy sight.
Love like a clear sky spread Bends over thy loved head, As a new heaven bends over a new-born earth, When the old night's womb is great With young stars passionate And fair new planets fiery-fresh from birth; And moon-white here, there hot like Mars, Souls that are worlds shine on thee, spirits that are stars.
Till the whole sky burns through With heaven's own heart-deep hue, With passion-coloured glories of lit souls; And thine above all names Writ highest with lettering flames Lightens, and all the old starriest aureoles And all the old holiest memories wane, And the old names of love's chosen, found in thy sight vain.
And crowned heads are discrowned, And stars sink without sound, And love's self for thy love's sake waxes pale Seeing from his storied skies In what new reverent wise Thee Rome's most highest, her sovereign daughters, hail; Thee Portia, thee Veturia grey, Thee Arria, thee Cornelia, Roman more than they.
Even all these as all we Subdue themselves to thee, Bow their heads haloed, quench their fiery fame; Seen through dim years divine, Their faint lights feminine Sink, then spring up rekindled from thy flame; Fade, then reflower and reillume From thy fresh spring their wintering age with new-blown bloom.
To thy much holier head Even theirs, the holy and dead, Bow themselves each one from her heavenward height; Each in her shining turn, All tremble toward thee and yearn To melt in thine their consummated light; Till from day's Capitolian dome One glory of many glories lighten upon Rome.
Hush thyself, song, and cease, Close, lips, and hold your peace; What help hast thou, what part have ye herein? But you, with sweet shut eyes, Heart-hidden memories, Dreams and dumb thoughts that keep what things have been Silent, and pure of all words said, Praise without song the living, without dirge the dead.
Thou, strengthless in these things, Song, fold thy feebler wings, And as a pilgrim go forth girt and shod, And where the new graves are, And where the sunset star, To the pure spirit of man that men call God, To the high soul of things, that is Made of men's heavenlier hopes and mightier memories;
To the elements that make For the soul's living sake This raiment of dead things, of shadow and trance, That give us chance and time Wherein to aspire and climb And set our life's work higher than time or chance The old sacred elements, that give The breath of life to days that die, to deeds that live;
To them, veiled gods and great, There bow thee and dedicate The speechless spirit in these thy weak words hidden; And mix thy reverent breath With holier air of death, At the high feast of sorrow a guest unbidden, Till with divine triumphal tears Thou fill men's eyes who listen with a heart that hears.
THE LITANY OF NATIONS
[Greek text which cannot be reproduced] AESCH. Supp. 890.
If with voice of words or prayers thy sons may reach thee, We thy latter sons, the men thine after-birth, We the children of thy grey-grown age, O Earth, O our mother everlasting, we beseech thee, By the sealed and secret ages of thy life; By the darkness wherein grew thy sacred forces; By the songs of stars thy sisters in their courses; By thine own song hoarse and hollow and shrill with strife; By thy voice distuned and marred of modulation; By the discord of thy measure's march with theirs; By the beauties of thy bosom, and the cares; By thy glory of growth, and splendour of thy station; By the shame of men thy children, and the pride; By the pale-cheeked hope that sleeps and weeps and passes, As the grey dew from the morning mountain-grasses; By the white-lipped sightless memories that abide; By the silence and the sound of many sorrows; By the joys that leapt up living and fell dead; By the veil that hides thy hands and breasts and head, Wrought of divers-coloured days and nights and morrows; Isis, thou that knowest of God what worlds are worth, Thou the ghost of God, the mother uncreated, Soul for whom the floating forceless ages waited As our forceless fancies wait on thee, O Earth; Thou the body and soul, the father-God and mother, If at all it move thee, knowing of all things done Here where evil things and good things are not one, But their faces are as fire against each other; By thy morning and thine evening, night and day; By the first white light that stirs and strives and hovers As a bird above the brood her bosom covers, By the sweet last star that takes the westward way; By the night whose feet are shod with snow or thunder, Fledged with plumes of storm, or soundless as the dew; By the vesture bound of many-folded blue Round her breathless breasts, and all the woven wonder; By the golden-growing eastern stream of sea; By the sounds of sunrise moving in the mountains; By the forces of the floods and unsealed fountains; Thou that badest man be born, bid man be free.
I am she that made thee lovely with my beauty From north to south: Mine, the fairest lips, took first the fire of duty From thine own mouth. Mine, the fairest eyes, sought first thy laws and knew them Truths undefiled; Mine, the fairest hands, took freedom first into them, A weanling child. By my light, now he lies sleeping, seen above him Where none sees other; By my dead that loved and living men that love him; (Cho.) Hear us, O mother.
I am she that was the light of thee enkindled When Greece grew dim; She whose life grew up with man's free life, and dwindled With wane of him. She that once by sword and once by word imperial Struck bright thy gloom; And a third time, casting off these years funereal, Shall burst thy tomb. By that bond 'twixt thee and me whereat affrighted Thy tyrants fear us; By that hope and this remembrance reunited; (Cho.) O mother, hear us.
I am she that set my seal upon the nameless West worlds of seas; And my sons as brides took unto them the tameless Hesperides. Till my sins and sons through sinless lands dispersed, With red flame shod, Made accurst the name of man, and thrice accursed The name of God. Lest for those past fires the fires of my repentance Hell's fume yet smother, Now my blood would buy remission of my sentence; (Cho.) Hear us, O mother.
I am she that was thy sign and standard-bearer, Thy voice and cry; She that washed thee with her blood and left thee fairer, The same was I. Were not these the hands that raised thee fallen and fed thee, These hands defiled? Was not I thy tongue that spake, thine eye that led thee, Not I thy child? By the darkness on our dreams, and the dead errors Of dead times near us; By the hopes that hang around thee, and the terrors; (Cho.) O mother, hear us.
I am she whose hands are strong and her eyes blinded And lips athirst Till upon the night of nations many-minded One bright day burst: Till the myriad stars be molten into one light, And that light thine; Till the soul of man be parcel of the sunlight, And thine of mine. By the snows that blanch not him nor cleanse from slaughter Who slays his brother; By the stains and by the chains on me thy daughter; (Cho.) Hear us, O mother.
I am she that shews on mighty limbs and maiden Nor chain nor stain; For what blood can touch these hands with gold unladen, These feet what chain? By the surf of spears one shieldless bosom breasted And was my shield, Till the plume-plucked Austrian vulture-heads twin-crested Twice drenched the field; By the snows and souls untrampled and untroubled That shine to cheer us, Light of those to these responsive and redoubled; (Cho.) O mother, hear us.
I am she beside whose forest-hidden fountains Slept freedom armed, By the magic born to music in my mountains Heart-chained and charmed. By those days the very dream whereof delivers My soul from wrong; By the sounds that make of all my ringing rivers None knows what song; By the many tribes and names of my division One from another; By the single eye of sun-compelling vision; (Cho.) Hear us, O mother.
I am she that was and was not of thy chosen, Free, and not free; She that fed thy springs, till now her springs are frozen; Yet I am she. By the sea that clothed and sun that saw me splendid And fame that crowned, By the song-fires and the sword-fires mixed and blended That robed me round; By the star that Milton's soul for Shelley's lighted, Whose rays insphere us; By the beacon-bright Republic far-off sighted; (Cho.) O mother, hear us.
Turn away from us the cross-blown blasts of error, That drown each other; Turn away the fearful cry, the loud-tongued terror, O Earth, O mother. Turn away their eyes who track, their hearts who follow, The pathless past; Shew the soul of man, as summer shews the swallow, The way at last. By the sloth of men that all too long endure men On man to tread; By the cry of men, the bitter cry of poor men That faint for bread; By the blood-sweat of the people in the garden Inwalled of kings; By his passion interceding for their pardon Who do these things; By the sightless souls and fleshless limbs that labour For not their fruit; By the foodless mouth with foodless heart for neighbour, That, mad, is mute; By the child that famine eats as worms the blossom —Ah God, the child! By the milkless lips that strain the bloodless bosom Till woe runs wild; By the pastures that give grass to feed the lamb in, Where men lack meat; By the cities clad with gold and shame and famine; By field and street; By the people, by the poor man, by the master That men call slave; By the cross-winds of defeat and of disaster, By wreck, by wave; By the helm that keeps us still to sunwards driving, Still eastward bound, Till, as night-watch ends, day burn on eyes reviving, And land be found: We thy children, that arraign not nor impeach thee Though no star steer us, By the waves that wash the morning we beseech thee, O mother, hear us.
I am that which began; Out of me the years roll; Out of me God and man; I am equal and whole; God changes, and man, and the form of them bodily; I am the soul.
Before ever land was, Before ever the sea, Or soft hair of the grass, Or fair limbs of the tree, Or the flesh-coloured fruit of my branches, I was, and thy soul was in me.
First life on my sources First drifted and swam; Out of me are the forces That save it or damn; Out of me man and woman, and wild-beast and bird; before God was, I am.
Beside or above me Nought is there to go; Love or unlove me, Unknow me or know, I am that which unloves me and loves; I am stricken, and I am the blow.
I the mark that is missed And the arrows that miss, I the mouth that is kissed And the breath in the kiss, The search, and the sought, and the seeker, the soul and the body that is.
I am that thing which blesses My spirit elate; That which caresses With hands uncreate My limbs unbegotten that measure the length of the measure of fate.
But what thing dost thou now, Looking Godward, to cry "I am I, thou art thou, I am low, thou art high"? I am thou, whom thou seekest to find him; find thou but thyself, thou art I.
I the grain and the furrow, The plough-cloven clod And the ploughshare drawn thorough, The germ and the sod, The deed and the doer, the seed and the sower, the dust which is God.
Hast thou known how I fashioned thee, Child, underground? Fire that impassioned thee, Iron that bound, Dim changes of water, what thing of all these hast thou known of or found?
Canst thou say in thine heart Thou hast seen with thine eyes With what cunning of art Thou wast wrought in what wise, By what force of what stuff thou wast shapen, and shown on my breast to the skies?
Who hath given, who hath sold it thee, Knowledge of me? Hath the wilderness told it thee? Hast thou learnt of the sea? Hast thou communed in spirit with night? have the winds taken counsel with thee?
Have I set such a star To show light on thy brow That thou sawest from afar What I show to thee now? Have ye spoken as brethren together, the sun and the mountains and thou?
What is here, dost thou know it? What was, hast thou known? Prophet nor poet Nor tripod nor throne Nor spirit nor flesh can make answer, but only thy mother alone.
Mother, not maker, Born, and not made; Though her children forsake her, Allured or afraid, Praying prayers to the God of their fashion, she stirs not for all that have prayed.
A creed is a rod, And a crown is of night; But this thing is God, To be man with thy might, To grow straight in the strength of thy spirit, and live out thy life as the light.
I am in thee to save thee, As my soul in thee saith; Give thou as I gave thee, Thy life-blood and breath, Green leaves of thy labour, white flowers of thy thought, and red fruit of thy death,
Be the ways of thy giving As mine were to thee; The free life of thy living, Be the gift of it free; Not as servant to lord, nor as master to slave, shalt thou give thee to me.
O children of banishment, Souls overcast, Were the lights ye see vanish meant Alway to last, Ye would know not the sun overshining the shadows and stars overpast.
I that saw where ye trod The dim paths of the night Set the shadow called God In your skies to give light; But the morning of manhood is risen, and the shadowless soul is in sight.
The tree many-rooted That swells to the sky With frondage red-fruited, The life-tree am I; In the buds of your lives is the sap of my leaves: ye shall live and not die.
But the Gods of your fashion That take and that give, In their pity and passion That scourge and forgive, They are worms that are bred in the bark that falls off; they shall die and not live.
My own blood is what stanches The wounds in my bark; Stars caught in my branches Make day of the dark, And are worshipped as suns till the sunrise shall tread out their fires as a spark.
Where dead ages hide under The live roots of the tree, In my darkness the thunder Makes utterance of me; In the clash of my boughs with each other ye hear the waves sound of the sea.
That noise is of Time, As his feathers are spread And his feet set to climb Through the boughs overhead, And my foliage rings round him and rustles, and branches are bent with his tread.
The storm-winds of ages Blow through me and cease, The war-wind that rages, The spring-wind of peace, Ere the breath of them roughen my tresses, ere one of my blossoms increase.
All sounds of all changes, All shadows and lights On the world's mountain-ranges And stream-riven heights, Whose tongue is the wind's tongue and language of storm-clouds on earth-shaking nights;
All forms of all faces, All works of all hands In unsearchable places Of time-stricken lands, All death and all life, and all reigns and all ruins, drop through me as sands.
Though sore be my burden And more than ye know, And my growth have no guerdon But only to grow, Yet I fail not of growing for lightnings above me or deathworms below.
These too have their part in me, As I too in these; Such fire is at heart in me, Such sap is this tree's, Which hath in it all sounds and all secrets of infinite lands and of seas.
In the spring-coloured hours When my mind was as May's, There brake forth of me flowers By centuries of days, Strong blossoms with perfume of manhood, shot out from my spirit as rays.
And the sound of them springing And smell of their shoots Were as warmth and sweet singing And strength to my roots; And the lives of my children made perfect with freedom of soul were my fruits.
I bid you but be; I have need not of prayer; I have need of you free As your mouths of mine air; That my heart may be greater within me, beholding the fruits of me fair.
More fair than strange fruit is Of faiths ye espouse; In me only the root is That blooms in your boughs; Behold now your God that ye made you, to feed him with faith of your vows.
In the darkening and whitening Abysses adored, With dayspring and lightning For lamp and for sword, God thunders in heaven, and his angels are red with the wrath of the Lord.
O my sons, O too dutiful Toward Gods not of me, Was not I enough beautiful? Was it hard to be free? For behold, I am with you, am in you and of you; look forth now and see.
Lo, winged with world's wonders, With miracles shod, With the fires of his thunders For raiment and rod, God trembles in heaven, and his angels are white with the terror of God.
For his twilight is come on him, His anguish is here; And his spirits gaze dumb on him, Grown grey from his fear; And his hour taketh hold on him stricken, the last of his infinite year.
Thought made him and breaks him, Truth slays and forgives; But to you, as time takes him, This new thing it gives, Even love, the beloved Republic, that feeds upon freedom and lives.
For truth only is living, Truth only is whole, And the love of his giving Man's polestar and pole; Man, pulse of my centre, and fruit of my body, and seed of my soul.
One birth of my bosom; One beam of mine eye; One topmost blossom That scales the sky; Man, equal and one with me, man that is made of me, man that is I.
BEFORE A CRUCIFIX
Here, down between the dusty trees, At this lank edge of haggard wood, Women with labour-loosened knees, With gaunt backs bowed by servitude, Stop, shift their loads, and pray, and fare Forth with souls easier for the prayer.
The suns have branded black, the rains Striped grey this piteous God of theirs; The face is full of prayers and pains, To which they bring their pains and prayers; Lean limbs that shew the labouring bones, And ghastly mouth that gapes and groans.
God of this grievous people, wrought After the likeness of their race, By faces like thine own besought, Thine own blind helpless eyeless face, I too, that have nor tongue nor knee For prayer, I have a word to thee.
It was for this then, that thy speech Was blown about the world in flame And men's souls shot up out of reach Of fear or lust or thwarting shame - That thy faith over souls should pass As sea-winds burning the grey grass?
It was for this, that prayers like these Should spend themselves about thy feet, And with hard overlaboured knees Kneeling, these slaves of men should beat Bosoms too lean to suckle sons And fruitless as their orisons?
It was for this, that men should make Thy name a fetter on men's necks, Poor men's made poorer for thy sake, And women's withered out of sex? It was for this, that slaves should be, Thy word was passed to set men free?
The nineteenth wave of the ages rolls Now deathward since thy death and birth. Hast thou fed full men's starved-out souls? Hast thou brought freedom upon earth? Or are there less oppressions done In this wild world under the sun?
Nay, if indeed thou be not dead, Before thy terrene shrine be shaken, Look down, turn usward, bow thine head; O thou that wast of God forsaken, Look on thine household here, and see These that have not forsaken thee.
Thy faith is fire upon their lips, Thy kingdom golden in their hands; They scourge us with thy words for whips, They brand us with thy words for brands; The thirst that made thy dry throat shrink To their moist mouths commends the drink.
The toothed thorns that bit thy brows Lighten the weight of gold on theirs; Thy nakedness enrobes thy spouse With the soft sanguine stuff she wears Whose old limbs use for ointment yet Thine agony and bloody sweat.
The blinding buffets on thine head On their crowned heads confirm the crown; Thy scourging dyes their raiment red, And with thy bands they fasten down For burial in the blood-bought field The nations by thy stripes unhealed.
With iron for thy linen bands And unclean cloths for winding-sheet They bind the people's nail-pierced hands, They hide the people's nail-pierced feet; And what man or what angel known Shall roll back the sepulchral stone?
But these have not the rich man's grave To sleep in when their pain is done. These were not fit for God to save. As naked hell-fire is the sun In their eyes living, and when dead These have not where to lay their head.
They have no tomb to dig, and hide; Earth is not theirs, that they should sleep. On all these tombless crucified No lovers' eyes have time to weep. So still, for all man's tears and creeds, The sacred body hangs and bleeds.
Through the left hand a nail is driven, Faith, and another through the right, Forged in the fires of hell and heaven, Fear that puts out the eye of light: And the feet soiled and scarred and pale Are pierced with falsehood for a nail.
And priests against the mouth divine Push their sponge full of poison yet And bitter blood for myrrh and wine, And on the same reed is it set Wherewith before they buffeted The people's disanointed head.
O sacred head, O desecrate, O labour-wounded feet and hands, O blood poured forth in pledge to fate Of nameless lives in divers lands, O slain and spent and sacrificed People, the grey-grown speechless Christ!
Is there a gospel in the red Old witness of thy wide-mouthed wounds? From thy blind stricken tongueless head What desolate evangel sounds A hopeless note of hope deferred? What word, if there be any word?
O son of man, beneath man's feet Cast down, O common face of man Whereon all blows and buffets meet, O royal, O republican Face of the people bruised and dumb And longing till thy kingdom come!
The soldiers and the high priests part Thy vesture: all thy days are priced, And all the nights that eat thine heart. And that one seamless coat of Christ, The freedom of the natural soul, They cast their lots for to keep whole.
No fragment of it save the name They leave thee for a crown of scorns Wherewith to mock thy naked shame And forehead bitten through with thorns And, marked with sanguine sweat and tears, The stripes of eighteen hundred years
And we seek yet if God or man Can loosen thee as Lazarus, Bid thee rise up republican And save thyself and all of us; But no disciple's tongue can say When thou shalt take our sins away.
And mouldering now and hoar with moss Between us and the sunlight swings The phantom of a Christless cross Shadowing the sheltered heads of kings And making with its moving shade The souls of harmless men afraid.
It creaks and rocks to left and right Consumed of rottenness and rust, Worm-eaten of the worms of night, Dead as their spirits who put trust, Round its base muttering as they sit, In the time-cankered name of it.
Thou, in the day that breaks thy prison, People, though these men take thy name, And hail and hymn thee rearisen, Who made songs erewhile of thy shame, Give thou not ear; for these are they Whose good day was thine evil day.
Set not thine hand unto their cross. Give not thy soul up sacrificed. Change not the gold of faith for dross Of Christian creeds that spit on Christ. Let not thy tree of freedom be Regrafted from that rotting tree.
This dead God here against my face Hath help for no man; who hath seen The good works of it, or such grace As thy grace in it, Nazarene, As that from thy live lips which ran For man's sake, O thou son of man?
The tree of faith ingraffed by priests Puts its foul foliage out above thee, And round it feed man-eating beasts Because of whom we dare not love thee; Though hearts reach back and memories ache, We cannot praise thee for their sake.
O hidden face of man, whereover The years have woven a viewless veil, If thou wast verily man's lover, What did thy love or blood avail? Thy blood the priests make poison of, And in gold shekels coin thy love.
So when our souls look back to thee They sicken, seeing against thy side, Too foul to speak of or to see, The leprous likeness of a bride, Whose kissing lips through his lips grown Leave their God rotten to the bone.
When we would see thee man, and know What heart thou hadst toward men indeed, Lo, thy blood-blackened altars; lo, The lips of priests that pray and feed While their own hell's worm curls and licks The poison of the crucifix.
Thou bad'st let children come to thee; What children now but curses come? What manhood in that God can be Who sees their worship, and is dumb? No soul that lived, loved, wrought, and died, Is this their carrion crucified.
Nay, if their God and thou be one, If thou and this thing be the same, Thou shouldst not look upon the sun; The sun grows haggard at thy name. Come down, be done with, cease, give o'er; Hide thyself, strive not, be no more.
At the chill high tide of the night, At the turn of the fluctuant hours, When the waters of time are at height, In a vision arose on my sight The kingdoms of earth and the powers.
In a dream without lightening of eyes I saw them, children of earth, Nations and races arise, Each one after his wise, Signed with the sign of his birth.
Sound was none of their feet, Light was none of their faces; In their lips breath was not, or heat, But a subtle murmur and sweet As of water in wan waste places.
Pale as from passionate years, Years unassuaged of desire, Sang they soft in mine ears, Crowned with jewels of tears, Girt with girdles of fire.
A slow song beaten and broken, As it were from the dust and the dead, As of spirits athirst unsloken, As of things unspeakable spoken, As of tears unendurable shed.
In the manifold sound remote, In the molten murmur of song, There was but a sharp sole note Alive on the night and afloat, The cry of the world's heart's wrong.
As the sea in the strait sea-caves, The sound came straitened and strange; A noise of the rending of graves, A tidal thunder of waves, The music of death and of change.
"We have waited so long," they say, "For a sound of the God, for a breath, For a ripple of the refluence of day, For the fresh bright wind of the fray, For the light of the sunrise of death.
"We have prayed not, we, to be strong, To fulfil the desire of our eyes; - Howbeit they have watched for it long, Watched, and the night did them wrong, Yet they say not of day, shall it rise?
"They are fearful and feeble with years, Yet they doubt not of day if it be; Yea, blinded and beaten with tears, Yea, sick with foresight of fears, Yet a little, and hardly, they see.
"We pray not, we, for the palm, For the fruit ingraffed of the fight, For the blossom of peace and the balm, And the tender triumph and calm Of crownless and weaponless right.
"We pray not, we, to behold The latter august new birth, The young day's purple and gold, And divine, and rerisen as of old, The sun-god Freedom on earth.
"Peace, and world's honour, and fame, We have sought after none of these things; The light of a life like flame Passing, the storm of a name Shaking the strongholds of kings:
"Nor, fashioned of fire and of air, The splendour that burns on his head Who was chiefest in ages that were, Whose breath blew palaces bare, Whose eye shone tyrannies dead:
"All these things in your day Ye shall see, O our sons, and shall hold Surely; but we, in the grey Twilight, for one thing we pray, In that day though our memories be cold:
"To feel on our brows as we wait An air of the morning, a breath From the springs of the east, from the gate Whence freedom issues, and fate, Sorrow, and triumph, and death
"From a land whereon time hath not trod, Where the spirit is bondless and bare, And the world's rein breaks, and the rod, And the soul of a man, which is God, He adores without altar or prayer:
For alone of herself and her right She takes, and alone gives grace: And the colours of things lose light, And the forms, in the limitless white Splendour of space without space:
"And the blossom of man from his tomb Yearns open, the flower that survives; And the shadows of changes consume In the colourless passionate bloom Of the live light made of our lives:
"Seeing each life given is a leaf Of the manifold multiform flower, And the least among these, and the chief, As an ear in the red-ripe sheaf Stored for the harvesting hour.
"O spirit of man, most holy, The measure of things and the root, In our summers and winters a lowly Seed, putting forth of them slowly Thy supreme blossom and fruit;
"In thy sacred and perfect year, The souls that were parcel of thee In the labour and life of us here Shall be rays of thy sovereign sphere, Springs of thy motion shall be.
"There is the fire that was man, The light that was love, and the breath That was hope ere deliverance began, And the wind that was life for a span, And the birth of new things, which is death
There, whosoever had light, And, having, for men's sake gave; All that warred against night; All that were found in the fight Swift to be slain and to save;
"Undisbranched of the storms that disroot us, Of the lures that enthrall unenticed; The names that exalt and transmute us; The blood-bright splendour of Brutus, The snow-bright splendour of Christ.
"There all chains are undone; Day there seems but as night; Spirit and sense are as one In the light not of star nor of sun; Liberty there is the light.
She, sole mother and maker, Stronger than sorrow, than strife; Deathless, though death overtake her; Faithful, though faith should forsake her; Spirit, and saviour, and life."
HYMN OF MAN (DURING THE SESSION IN ROME OF THE ECUMENICAL COUNCIL)
In the grey beginning of years, in the twilight of things that began, The word of the earth in the ears of the world, was it God? was it man? The word of the earth to the spheres her sisters, the note of her song, The sound of her speech in the ears of the starry and sisterly throng, Was it praise or passion or prayer, was it love or devotion or dread, When the veils of the shining air first wrapt her jubilant head? When her eyes new-born of the night saw yet no star out of reach; When her maiden mouth was alight with the flame of musical speech; When her virgin feet were set on the terrible heavenly way, And her virginal lids were wet with the dew of the birth of the day: Eyes that had looked not on time, and ears that had heard not of death; Lips that had learnt not the rhyme of change and passionate breath, The rhythmic anguish of growth, and the motion of mutable things, Of love that longs and is loth, and plume-plucked hope without wings, Passions and pains without number, and life that runs and is lame, From slumber again to slumber, the same race set for the same, Where the runners outwear each other, but running with lampless hands No man takes light from his brother till blind at the goal he stands: Ah, did they know, did they dream of it, counting the cost and the worth? The ways of her days, did they seem then good to the new-souled earth? Did her heart rejoice, and the might of her spirit exult in her then, Child yet no child of the night, and motherless mother of men? Was it Love brake forth flower-fashion, a bird with gold on his wings, Lovely, her firstborn passion, and impulse of firstborn things? Was Love that nestling indeed that under the plumes of the night Was hatched and hidden as seed in the furrow, and brought forth bright? Was it Love lay shut in the shell world-shaped, having over him there Black world-wide wings that impel the might of the night through air? And bursting his shell as a bird, night shook through her sail- stretched vans, And her heart as a water was stirred, and its heat was the firstborn man's. For the waste of the dead void air took form of a world at birth, And the waters and firmaments were, and light, and the life-giving earth. The beautiful bird unbegotten that night brought forth without pain In the fathomless years forgotten whereover the dead gods reign, Was it love, life, godhead, or fate? we say the spirit is one That moved on the dark to create out of darkness the stars and the sun. Before the growth was the grower, and the seed ere the plant was sown; But what was seed of the sower? and the grain of him, whence was it grown? Foot after foot ye go back and travail and make yourselves mad; Blind feet that feel for the track where highway is none to be had. Therefore the God that ye make you is grievous, and gives not aid, Because it is but for your sake that the God of your making is made. Thou and I and he are not gods made men for a span, But God, if a God there be, is the substance of men which is man. Our lives are as pulses or pores of his manifold body and breath; As waves of his sea on the shores where birth is the beacon of death. We men, the multiform features of man, whatsoever we be, Recreate him of whom we are creatures, and all we only are he. Not each man of all men is God, but God is the fruit of the whole; Indivisible spirit and blood, indiscernible body from soul. Not men's but man's is the glory of godhead, the kingdom of time, The mountainous ages made hoary with snows for the spirit to climb. A God with the world inwound whose clay to his footsole clings; A manifold God fast-bound as with iron of adverse things. A soul that labours and lives, an emotion, a strenuous breath, From the flame that its own mouth gives reillumed, and refreshed with death. In the sea whereof centuries are waves the live God plunges and swims; His bed is in all men's graves, but the worm hath not hold on his limbs. Night puts out not his eyes, nor time sheds change on his head; With such fire as the stars of the skies are the roots of his heart are fed. Men are the thoughts passing through it, the veins that fulfil it with blood, With spirit of sense to renew it as springs fulfilling a flood. Men are the heartbeats of man, the plumes that feather his wings, Storm-worn, since being began, with the wind and thunder of things. Things are cruel and blind; their strength detains and deforms: And the wearying wings of the mind still beat up the stream of their storms. Still, as one swimming up stream, they strike out blind in the blast, In thunders of vision and dream, and lightnings of future and past. We are baffled and caught in the current and bruised upon edges of shoals; As weeds or as reeds in the torrent of things are the wind-shaken souls. Spirit by spirit goes under, a foam-bell's bubble of breath, That blows and opens in sunder and blurs not the mirror of death. For a worm or a thorn in his path is a man's soul quenched as a flame; For his lust of an hour or his wrath shall the worm and the man be the same. O God sore stricken of things! they have wrought him a raiment of pain; Can a God shut eyelids and wings at a touch on the nerves of the brain? O shamed and sorrowful God, whose force goes out at a blow! What world shall shake at his nod? at his coming what wilderness glow? What help in the work of his hands? what light in the track of his feet? His days are snowflakes or sands, with cold to consume him and heat. He is servant with Change for lord, and for wages he hath to his hire Folly and force, and a sword that devours, and a ravening fire. From the bed of his birth to his grave he is driven as a wind at their will; Lest Change bow down as his slave, and the storm and the sword be still; Lest earth spread open her wings to the sunward, and sing with the spheres; Lest man be master of things, to prevail on their forces and fears. By the spirit are things overcome; they are stark, and the spirit hath breath; It hath speech, and their forces are dumb; it is living, and things are of death. But they know not the spirit for master, they feel not force from above, While man makes love to disaster, and woos desolation with love. Yea, himself too hath made himself chains, and his own hands plucked out his eyes; For his own soul only constrains him, his own mouth only denies. The herds of kings and their hosts and the flocks of the high priests bow To a master whose face is a ghost's; O thou that wast God, is it thou? Thou madest man in the garden; thou temptedst man, and he fell; Thou gavest him poison and pardon for blood and burnt-offering to sell. Thou hast sealed thine elect to salvation, fast locked with faith for the key; Make now for thyself expiation, and be thine atonement for thee. Ah, thou that darkenest heaven—ah, thou that bringest a sword - By the crimes of thine hands unforgiven they beseech thee to hear them, O Lord. By the balefires of ages that burn for thine incense, by creed and by rood, By the famine and passion that yearn and that hunger to find of thee food, By the children that asked at thy throne of the priests that were fat with thine hire For bread, and thou gavest a stone; for light, and thou madest them fire; By the kiss of thy peace like a snake's kiss, that leaves the soul rotten at root; By the savours of gibbets and stakes thou hast planted to bear to thee fruit; By torture and terror and treason, that make to thee weapons and wings; By thy power upon men for a season, made out of the malice of things; O thou that hast built thee a shrine of the madness of man and his shame, And hast hung in the midst for a sign of his worship the lamp of thy name; That hast shown him for heaven in a vision a void world's shadow and shell, And hast fed thy delight and derision with fire of belief as of hell; That hast fleshed on the souls that believe thee the fang of the death-worm fear, With anguish of dreams to deceive them whose faith cries out in thine ear; By the face of the spirit confounded before thee and humbled in dust, By the dread wherewith life was astounded and shamed out of sense of its trust, By the scourges of doubt and repentance that fell on the soul at thy nod, Thou art judged, O judge, and the sentence is gone forth against thee, O God. Thy slave that slept is awake; thy slave but slept for a span; Yea, man thy slave shall unmake thee, who made thee lord over man. For his face is set to the east, his feet on the past and its dead; The sun rearisen is his priest, and the heat thereof hallows his head. His eyes take part in the morning; his spirit out-sounding the sea Asks no more witness or warning from temple or tripod or tree. He hath set the centuries at union; the night is afraid at his name; Equal with life, in communion with death, he hath found them the same. Past the wall unsurmounted that bars out our vision with iron and fire He hath sent forth his soul for the stars to comply with and suns to conspire. His thought takes flight for the centre wherethrough it hath part in the whole; The abysses forbid it not enter: the stars make room for the soul. Space is the soul's to inherit; the night is hers as the day; Lo, saith man, this is my spirit; how shall not the worlds make way? Space is thought's, and the wonders thereof, and the secret of space; Is thought not more than the thunders and lightnings? shall thought give place? Is the body not more than the vesture, the life not more than the meat? The will than the word or the gesture, the heart than the hands or the feet? Is the tongue not more than the speech is? the head not more than the crown? And if higher than is heaven be the reach of the soul, shall not heaven bow down? Time, father of life, and more great than the life it begat and began, Earth's keeper and heaven's and their fate, lives, thinks, and hath substance in man. Time's motion that throbs in his blood is the thought that gives heart to the skies, And the springs of the fire that is food to the sunbeams are light to his eyes. The minutes that beat with his heart are the words to which worlds keep chime, And the thought in his pulses is part of the blood and the spirit of time. He saith to the ages, Give; and his soul foregoes not her share; Who are ye that forbid him to live, and would feed him with heavenlier air? Will ye feed him with poisonous dust, and restore him with hemlock for drink, Till he yield you his soul up in trust, and have heart not to know or to think? He hath stirred him, and found out the flaw in his fetters, and cast them behind; His soul to his soul is a law, and his mind is a light to his mind. The seal of his knowledge is sure, the truth and his spirit are wed; Men perish, but man shall endure; lives die, but the life is not dead. He hath sight of the secrets of season, the roots of the years and the fruits; His soul is at one with the reason of things that is sap to the roots. He can hear in their changes a sound as the conscience of consonant spheres; He can see through the years flowing round him the law lying under the years. Who are ye that would bind him with curses and blind him with vapour of prayer? Your might is as night that disperses when light is alive in the air. The bow of your godhead is broken, the arm of your conquest is stayed; Though ye call down God to bear token, for fear of you none is afraid. Will ye turn back times, and the courses of stars, and the season of souls? Shall God's breath dry up the sources that feed time full as it rolls? Nay, cry on him then till he show you a sign, till he lift up a rod; Hath he made not the nations to know him of old if indeed he be God? Is no heat of him left in the ashes of thousands burnt up for his sake? Can prayer not rekindle the flashes that shone in his face from the stake? Cry aloud; for your God is a God and a Saviour; cry, make yourselves lean; Is he drunk or asleep, that the rod of his wrath is unfelt and unseen? Is the fire of his old loving-kindness gone out, that his pyres are acold? Hath he gazed on himself unto blindness, who made men blind to behold? Cry out, for his kingdom is shaken; cry out, for the people blaspheme; Cry aloud till his godhead awaken; what doth he to sleep and to dream? Cry, cut yourselves, gash you with knives and with scourges, heap on to you dust; Is his life but as other gods' lives? is not this the Lord God of your trust? Is not this the great God of your sires, that with souls and with bodies was fed, And the world was on flame with his fires? O fools, he was God, and is dead. He will hear not again the strong crying of earth in his ears as before, And the fume of his multitudes dying shall flatter his nostrils no more. By the spirit he ruled as his slave is he slain who was mighty to slay, And the stone that is sealed on his grave he shall rise not and roll not away. Yea, weep to him, lift up your hands; be your eyes as a fountain of tears; Where he stood there is nothing that stands; if he call, there is no man that hears. He hath doffed his king's raiment of lies now the wane of his kingdom is come; Ears hath he, and hears not; and eyes, and he sees not; and mouth, and is dumb. His red king's raiment is ripped from him naked, his staff broken down; And the signs of his empire are stripped from him shuddering; and where is his crown? And in vain by the wellsprings refrozen ye cry for the warmth of his sun - O God, the Lord God of thy chosen, thy will in thy kingdom be done. Kingdom and will hath he none in him left him, nor warmth in his breath; Till his corpse be cast out of the sun will ye know not the truth of his death? Surely, ye say, he is strong, though the times be against him and men; Yet a little, ye say, and how long, till he come to show judgment again? Shall God then die as the beasts die? who is it hath broken his rod? O God, Lord God of thy priests, rise up now and show thyself God. They cry out, thine elect, thine aspirants to heavenward, whose faith is as flame; O thou the Lord God of our tyrants, they call thee, their God, by thy name. By thy name that in hell-fire was written, and burned at the point of thy sword, Thou art smitten, thou God, thou art smitten; thy death is upon thee, O Lord. And the love-song of earth as thou diest resounds through the wind of her wings - Glory to Man in the highest! for Man is the master of things.