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A bitter heart that bides its time and bites.
'Plays thus at being Prosper in a way,
Taketh his mirth with make-believes : so He.
His dam held that the Quiet made all things
Which Setebos vexed only : 'holds not so.
Who made them weak, meant weakness He might vex.
Had He meant other, while His hand was in,
Why not make horny eyes no thorn could prick,
Or plate my scalp with bone against the snow,
Or overscale my flesh 'neath joint and joint,
Like an orc's armour ? Ay,—so spoil His sport!
He is the One now: only He doth all.
'Saith, He may like, perchance, what profits Him.
Ay, himself loves what does him good ; but why?
'Gets good no otherwise. This blinded beast
Loves whoso places flesh-meat on his nose,
But, had he eyes, would want no help, would hate
Or love, just as it liked him : He hath eyes.
Also it pleaseth Setebos to work,
Use all His hands, and exercise much craft,
By no means for the love of what is worked.
'Tasteth, himself, no finer good i' the world
When all goes right, in this safe summer-time,
And he wants little, hungers, aches not much,
Than trying what to do with wit and strength.
'Falls to make something : 'piled yon pile of turfs,
And squared and stuck there squares of soft white chalk,
And, with a fish-tooth, scratched a moon on each,
And set up endwise certain spikes of tree,
And crowned the whole with a sloth's skull a-top,
Found dead i' the woods, too hard for one to kill.
No use at all i' the work, for work's sole sake ;
'Shall some day knock it down again : so He.
'Saith He is terrible : watch His feats in proof!
One hurricane will spoil six good months' hope.
He hath a spite against me, that I know.
Just as He favours Prosper, who knows why ?
So it is, all the same, as well I find.
'Wove wattles half the winter, fenced them firm
With stone and stake to stop she-tortoises
Crawling to lay their eggs here : well, one wave,
Feeling the foot of Him upon its neck,
Gaped as a snake does, lolled out its large tongue,
And licked the whole labour flat : so much for spite !
'Saw a ball flame down late (yonder it lies)
Where, half an hour before, I slept i’ the shade :
Often they scatter sparkles : there is force !
’Dug up a newt He may have envied once
And turned to stone, shut up inside a stone.
Please Him and hinder this ?-What Prosper does ?
Aha, if he would tell me how. Not He !
There is the sport : discover how or die !
All need not die, for of the things o' the isle
Some flee afar, some dive, some run up trees ;
Those at His mercy,—why, they please Him most
When . . when .. well, never try the same way twice !
Repeat what act has pleased, He may grow wroth.
You must not know His ways, and play Him off,
Sure of the issue. 'Doth the like himself:
'Spareth a squirrel that it nothing fears
But steals the nut from underneath my thumb,
And when I threat, bites stoutly in defence :
'Spareth an urchin that contrariwise,
Curls up into a ball, pretending death
For fright at my approach : the two ways please.
But what would move my choler more than this,
That either creature counted on its life
To-morrow, next day and all days to come,
Saying forsooth in the inmost of its heart,
“ Because he did so yesterday with me,
“ And otherwise with such another brute, “ So must he do henceforth and always.”—Ay? 'Would teach the reasoning couple what“must” means ! 'Doth as he likes, or wherefore Lord ? So He.
'Conceiveth all things will continue thus,
And we shall have to live in fear of Him
So long as He lives, keeps His strength : no change,
If He have done His best, make no new world
To please Him more, so leave off watching this, -
If He surprise not even the Quiet's self
Some strange day,–or, suppose, grow into it
As grubs grow butterflies : else, here are we,
And there is He, and nowhere help at all.
'Believeth with the life, the pain shall stop.
His dam held different, held that after death
He both plagued enemies and feasted friends :
He doth His worst in this our life,
Giving just respite lest we die through pain,
Saving last pain for worst, –with which, an end.
Meanwhile, the best way to escape His ire
Is, not to seem too happy. 'Sees, himself,
Yonder two flies, with purple films and pink,
Bask on the pompion-bell above : kills both.
'Sees two black painful beetles roll their ball
On head and tail as if to save their lives :
'Moves them the stick away they strive to clear.
Even so, 'would have Him misconceive, suppose
This Caliban strives hard and ails no less,
And always, above all else, envies Him ;
Wherefore he mainly dances on dark nights,
Moans in the sun, get under holes to laugh,
And never speaks his mind save housed as now :
Outside, 'groans, curses. If He caught me here,
O’erheard this speech, and asked “What chucklest at?"
'Would, to appease Him, cut a finger off,
Or of my three kid yearlings burn the best,
Or let the toothsome apple rot on tree,
Or push my tame beast for the orc to taste :
While myself lit a fire, and made a song
And sung it, " What I hate, be consecrate
“ To celebrate Thee and Thy state, no mate
“ For Thee; what see for envy in poor me?"
Hoping the while, since evils sometimes mend,
Warts rub away and sores are cured with slime,
That some strange day, will either the Quiet catch
And conquer Setebos, or likelier He
Decrepit may doze, doze, as good as die.
[What, what? A curtain o'er the world at once !
Crickets stop hissing ; not a bird-or, yes,
There scuds His raven that hath told Him all !
It was fool's play, this prattling! Ha! The wind
Shoulders the pillared dust, death's house o' the move,
And fast invading fires begin! White blaze-
A tree's head snaps—and there, there, there, there, there,
His thunder follows ! Fool to gibe at Him !
Lo! 'Lieth flat and loveth Setebos !
'Maketh his teeth meet through his upper lip,
Will let those quails fly, will not eat this month
One little mess of whelks, so he may 'scape !]
SAID Abner, “ At last thou art come! Ere I tell, ere
thou speak, “ Kiss my cheek, wish me well !” Then I wished it, and
did kiss his cheek.
And he, “ Since the King, O my friend, for thy coun
tenance sent, “ Neither drunken nor eaten have we; nor until from his
tent * Thou return with the joyful assurance the King liveth
yet, “ Shall our lip with the honey be bright, with the water be
* For out of the black mid-tent's silence, a space of three
days, * Not a sound hath escaped to thy servants, of
of praise, “ To betoken that Saul and the Spirit have ended their
strife, “ And that, faint in his triumph, the monarch sinks back
“ Yet now my heart leaps, O beloved! God's child with
his dew “On thy gracious gold hair, and those lilies still living
and blue Just broken to twine round thy harp-strings, as if no
wild heat “ Were now raging to torture the desert ! ”
Then I, as was meet, Knelt down to the God of my fathers, and rose on my
feet, And ran o'er the sand burnt to powder. The tent was
unlooped ; I pulled up the spear that obstructed, and under I
stooped ; Hands and knees on the slippery grass-patch, all withered