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So, I soberly laid my last plan
To extinguish the man.
Round his creep-hole, with never a break
Ran my fires for his sake ;
Over-head, did my thunder combine
With my under-ground mine :
Till I looked from my laboạr content
To enjoy the event.
When sudden ... how think ye, the end ?
Did I say “without friend ?”
Say rather, from marge to blue marge
The whole sky grew his targe
With the sun's self for visible boss,
While an Arm ran across
Which the earth heaved beneath like a breast
Where the wretch was safe prest !
Do you see ! Just my vengeance complete,
The man sprang to his feet,
Stood erect, caught at God's skirts, and prayed !
-So, I was afraid !
STRANGE MEDICAL EXPERIENCE OF KARSHISH,
THE ARAB PHYSICIAN.
KARSHISH, the picker-up of learning's crumbs,
The not-incurious in God's handiwork
(This man’s-flesh he hath admirably made,
Blown like a bubble, kneaded like a paste,
To coop up and keep down on earth a space
That puff of vapour from his mouth, man's soul)
– To Abib, all-sagacious in our art,
Breeder in me of what poor skill I boast,
Like me inquisitive how pricks and cracks
Befall the flesh through too much stress and strain,
Whereby the wily vapour fain would slip
Back and rejoin its source before the term,-
And aptest in contrivance (under God)
To baffle it by deftly stopping such :-
The vagrant Scholar to his Sage at home
Sends greeting (health and knowledge, fame with
Three samples of true snake-stone-rarer still,
One of the other sort, the melon-shaped,
(But fitter, pounded fine, for charms than drugs)
And writeth now the twenty-second time.
My journeyings were brought to Jericho : Thus I resume. Who studious in our art Shall count a little labour unrepaid ? I have shed sweat enough, left flesh and bone On many a flinty furlong of this land. Also, the country-side is all on fire With rumours of a marching hitherward : Some say Vespasian cometh, some, his son. A black lynx snarled and pricked a tufted ear : Lust of my blood inflamed his yellow balls : I cried and threw my staff and he was gone. Twice have the robbers stripped and beaten me, And once a town declared me for a spy; But at the end, I reach Jerusalem, Since this poor covert where I pass the night, This Bethany, lies scarce the distance thence A man with plague-sores at the third degree Runs till he drops down dead. Thou laughest here! 'Sooth, it elates me, thus reposed and safe,
To void the stuffing of my travel-scrip
And share with thee whatever Jewry yields.
A viscid choler is observable
In tertians, I was nearly bold to say ;
And falling-sickness hath a happier cure
Than our school wots of : there 's a spider here
Weaves no web, watches on the ledge of tombs,
Sprinkled with mottles on an ash-grey back;
Take five and drop them . .. but who knows his
The Syrian run-a-gate I trust this to ?
His service payeth me a sublimate
Blown up his nose to help the ailing eye.
Best wait : I reach Jerusalem at morn,
There set in order my experiences,
Gather what most deserves, and give thee all-
Or I might add, Judæa's gum-tragacanth
Scales off in purer flakes, shines clearer-grained,
Cracks 'twixt the pestle and the porphyry,
In fine exceeds our produce. Scalp-disease
Confounds me, crossing so with leprosy :
Thou hadst admired one sort I gained at Zoar-
But zeal outruns discretion. Here I end.
Yet stay! my Syrian blinketh gratefully, Protesteth his devotion is my price Suppose I write what harms not, though he steal ? I half resolve to tell thee, yet I blush, What set me off a-writing first of all. An itch I had, a sting to write, a tang! For, be it this town's barrenness—or else The Man had something in the look of himHis case has struck me far more than 't is worth. So, pardon if—(lest presently I lose, In the great press of novelty at hand, The care and pains this somehow stole from me)
I bid thee take the thing while fresh in mind, Almost in sight-for, wilt thou have the truth? The very man is gone from me but now, Whose ailment is the subject of discourse. Thus then, and let thy better wit help all !
'Tis but a case of mania : subinduced By epilepsy, at the turning-point Of trance prolonged unduly some three days When, by the exhibition of some drug. Or spell, exorcisation, stroke of art Unknown to me and which 't were well to know, The evil thing, out-breaking, all at once, Left the man whole and sound of body indeed, But, flinging (so to speak) life's gates too wide, Making a clear house of it too suddenly, The first conceit that entered might inscribe Whatever it was minded on the wall So plainly at that vintage, as it were, (First come, first served) that nothing subsequent Attaineth to erase those fancy-scrawls The just-returned and new-established soul Hath gotten now so thoroughly by heart That henceforth she will read or these or none. And first--the man's own firm conviction rests That he was dead (in fact they buried him) - That he was dead and then restored to life By a Nazarene physician of his tribe : _'Sayeth, the same bade “Rise," and he did rise. “ Such cases are diurnal,” thou wilt cry. Not so this figment !—not, that such a fume, Instead of giving way to time and health, Should eat itself into the life of life, As saffron tingeth flesh, blood, bones, and all ! For see, how he takes up the after-life. The man-it is one Lazarus a Jew,
Sanguine, proportioned, fifty years of age,
The body's habit wholly laudable,
As much, indeed, beyond the common health
As he were made and put aside to show.
Think, could we penetrate by any drug
And bathe the wearied soul and worried flesh,
And bring it clear and fair, by three days' sleep !
Whence has the man the balm that brightens all ?
This grown man eyes the world now like a child.
Some elders of his tribe, I should premise,
Led in their friend, obedient as a sheep,
To bear my inquisition. While they spoke,
Now sharply, now with sorrow,—told the case,-
He listened not except I spoke to him,
But folded his two hands and let them talk,
Watching the flies that buzzed : and yet no fool.
And that's a sample how his years must go.
Look if a beggar, in fixed middle-life,
Should find a treasure, can he use the same
With straitened habitude and tastes starved small,
And take at once to his impoverished brain
The sudden element that changes things,
That sets the undreamed-of rapture at his hand,
And puts the cheap old joy in the scorned dust?
Is he not such an one as moves to mirth-
Warily parsimonious, when no need,
Wasteful as drunkenness at undue times ?
All prudent counsel as to what befits
The golden mean, is lost on such an one :
The man's fantastic will is the man's law.
So here—we call the treasure knowledge, say,
Increased beyond the fleshly faculty-
Heaven opened to a soul while yet on earth,
Earth forced on a soul's use while seeing heaven:
The man is witless of the size, the sum,
The value in proportion of all things,