Слике страница

No sound, no sight as far as eye could strain.
Will the night send a howlet or a bat?

I asked when something on the dismal flat
Came to arrest my thoughts and change their train.


A sudden little river crossed my path

As unexpected as a serpent comes.

No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms; This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath For the fiend's glowing hoof—to see the wrath Of its black eddy bespate with flakes and spumes.


So petty yet so spiteful! All along,

Low scrubby alders kneeled down over it;
Drenched willows flung them headlong in a fit
Of mute despair, a suicidal throng:
The river which had done them all the wrong,
Whate'er that was, rolled by, deterred no whit.


Which, while I forded,-good saints, how I feared
To set my foot upon a dead man's cheek,
Each step, or feel the spear I thrust to seek
For hollows, tangled in his hair or beard !
-It may have been a water-rat I speared,

But, ugh! it sounded like a baby's shriek.


Glad was I when I reached the other bank.
Now for a better country. Vain presage !

Who were the strugglers, what war did they wage
Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank
Soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank,

Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage--


The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque.
What penned them there, with all the plain to choose?
No foot-print leading to that horrid mews,
None out of it. Mad brewage set to work
Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk
Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews.


And more than that—a furlong on-why, there!
What bad use was that engine for, that wheel,
Or brake, not wheel-that harrow fit to reel
Men's bodies out like silk? with all the air
Of Tophet's tool, on earth left unaware,

Or brought to sharpen its rusty teeth of steel.


Then came a bit of stubbed ground, once a wood, Next a marsh, it would seem, and now mere earth Desperate and done with; (so a fool finds mirth, Makes a thing and then mars it, till his mood Changes and off he goes !) within a rood—

Bog, clay, and rubble, sand and stark black dearth.


Now blotches rankling, coloured gay and grim,
Now patches where some leanness of the soil 's
Broke into moss or substances like boils;
Then came some palsied oak, a cleft in him
Like a distorted mouth that splits its rim
Gaping at death, and dies while it recoils.


And just as far as ever from the end,

Nought in the distance but the evening, nought

To point my footstep further! At the thought, A great black bird, Apollyon's bosom-friend, Sailed past, nor beat his wide wing dragon-penned That brushed my cap-perchance the guide I sought.


For, looking up, aware I somehow grew,

'Spite of the dusk, the plain had given place All round to mountains-with such name to grace Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view. How thus they had surprised me,-solve it, you ! How to get from them was no clearer case.


Yet half I seemed to recognise some trick

Of mischief happened to me, God knows when— In a bad dream perhaps. Here ended, then, Progress this way. When, in the very nick Of giving up, one time more, came a click

As when a trap shuts-you 're inside the den.


Burningly it came on me all at once,

This was the place! those two hills on the right, Couched like two bulls locked horn in horn in fight, While, to the left, a tall scalped mountain Dunce, Dotard, a-dozing at the very nonce,

After a life spent training for the sight!

[ocr errors]


What in the midst lay but the Tower itself?

The round squat turret, blind as the fool's heart,
Built of brown stone, without a counterpart
In the whole world. The tempest's mocking elf
Points to the shipman thus the unseen shelf

He strikes on, only when the timbers start.


Not see? because of night perhaps?—why, day
Came back again for that! before it left,
The dying sunset kindled through a cleft:
The hills, like giants at a hunting, lay,
Chin upon hand, to see the game at bay,—
"Now stab and end the creature-to the heft!"


Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it tolled
Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears
Of all the lost adventurers my peers,—
How such a one was strong, and such was bold,
And such was fortunate, yet each of old

Lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years.


There they stood, ranged along the hill-sides, met
To view the last of me, a living frame

For one more picture! in a sheet of flame
I saw them and I knew them all. And yet
Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,

And blew "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came."



LET us begin and carry up this corpse,
Singing together.

Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes,
Each in its tether

Sleeping safe in the bosom of the plain,

Cared-for till cock-crow:

Look out if yonder be not day again
Rimming the rock-row !

That's the appropriate country; there, man's thought, Rarer, intenser,

Self-gathered for an outbreak, as it ought,

Chafes in the censer.

Leave we the unlettered plain its herd and crop ;

Seek we sepulture

On a tall mountain, citied to the top,
Crowded with culture !

All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels;
Clouds overcome it ;

No, yonder sparkle is the citadel's

Circling its summit.

Thither our path lies; wind we up the heights
Wait ye the warning?

Our low life was the level's and the night's :
He's for the morning.

Step to a tune, square chests, erect each head,
'Ware the beholders !

This is our master, famous, calm and dead,
Borne on our shoulders.

Sleep, crop and herd! sleep, darkling thorpe and croft Safe from the weather!

He, whom we convoy to his grave aloft,

Singing together,

He was a man born with thy face and throat,

Lyric Apollo !

Long he lived nameless: how should spring take note Winter would follow?

Till lo, the little touch, and youth was gone!

Cramped and diminished,

Moaned he, "New measures, other feet anon! "My dance is finished?"

No, that's the world's way; (keep the mountain-side,

« ПретходнаНастави »