Imagens da página

Till we hated the Bounteous Isle and the sunbright hand

of the dawn, For there was not an enemy near, but the whole green

Isle was our own, And we took to playing at ball, and we took to throwing

the stone,

And we took to playing at battle, but that was a perilous

play, For the passion of battle was in us, we slew and we

sail'd away.


And we past to the Isle of Witches and heard their

musical cry“Come to us, o come, come” in the stormy red of

a sky Dashing the fires and the shadows of dawn on the

beautiful shapes, For a wild witch naked as heaven stood on each of the

loftiest capes, And a hundred ranged on the rock like white sea-birds

in a row, And a hundred gambolld and pranced on the wrecks in

the sand below, And a hundred splash'd from the ledges, and bosom’d

the burst of the spray, But I knew we should fall on each other, and hastily

sail'd away.


And we came in an evil time to the Isle of the Double

Towers, One was of smooth-cut stone, one carved all over with

flowers, But an earthquake always moved in the hollows under

the dells,

And they shock'd on each other and butted each other

with clashing of bells, And the daws flew out of the Towers and jangled and

wrangled in vain, And the clash and boom of the bells rang into the heart

and the brain, Till the passion of battle was on us, and all took sides

with the Towers, There were some for the clean-cut stone, there were

more for the carven flowers, And the wrathful thunder of God peal'd over us all the

day, For the one half slew the other, and after we sail'd


XI. And we came to the Isle of a Saint who had sail'd with

St. Brendan of yore, He had lived ever since on the Isle and his winters were

fifteen score,

And his voice was low as from other worlds, and his

eyes were sweet, And his white hair sank to his heels and his white beard

fell to his feet, And he spake to me, “O Maeldune, let be this purpose

of thine! Remember the words of the Lord when he told us

‘Vengeance is mine!' His fathers have slain thy fathers in war or in single

strife, Thy fathers have slain his fathers, each taken a life for

a life,

Thy father had slain his father, how long shall the

murder last? Go back to the Isle of Finn and suffer the Past to be


[ocr errors]

And we kiss’d the fringe of his beard and we pray'd as

we heard him pray, And the Holy man he assoild us, and sadly we sail'd



And we

came to the Isle we were blown from, and there on the shore was he, The man that had slain my father. I saw him and let

him be. O weary was I of the travel, the trouble, the strife and

the sin, When I landed again, with a tithe of my men, on the

Isle of Finn.


[The Death of Oenone etc. 1892.]
Had the fierce ashes of some fiery peak
Been hurld so high they ranged about the globe ?
For day by day, thro' many a blood-red eve,
In that four-hundredth summer after Christ,
The wrathful sunset glared against a cross
Rear'd on the tumbled ruins of an old fane
No longer sacred to the Sun, and flamed
On one huge slope beyond, where in his cave
The man, whose pious hand had built the cross,
A man who never changed a word with men,
Fasted and pray'd, Telemachus the Saint.

Eve after eve that haggard anchorite
Would haunt the desolated fane, and there
Gaze at the ruin, often mutter low
“Vicisti Galilæe”; louder again,
Spurning a shatter'd fragment of the God,
“Vicisti Galilæe !” but-when now
Bathed in that lurid crimson-ask'd “Is earth

On fire to the West? or is the Demon-god
Wroth at his fall?” and heard an answer “Wake
Thou deedless dreamer, lazying out a life
Of self-suppression, not of selfless love."
And once a flight of shadowy fighters crost
The disk, and once, he thought, a shape with wings
Came sweeping by him, and pointed to the West,
And at his ear he heard a whisper “Rome”
And in his heart he cried “The call of God!”
And call’d arose, and, slowly plunging down
Thro' that disastrous glory, set his face
By waste and field and town of alien tongue,
Following a hundred sunsets, and the sphere
Of westward-wheeling stars; and every dawn
Struck from him his own shadow on to Rome.

Foot-sore, way-worn, at length he touch'd his goal,
The Christian city. All her splendour fail'd
To lure those eyes that only yearn'd to see,
Fleeting betwixt her column'd palace-walls,
The shape with wings. Anon there past a crowd
With shameless laughter, Pagan oath, and jest,
Hard Romans brawling of their monstrous games;
He, all but deaf thro’ age and weariness,
And muttering to himself “The call of God”
And borne along by that full stream of men,
Like some old wreck on some indrawing sea,
Gain’d their huge Colosseum. The caged beast
Yell’d, as he yelld of yore for Christian blood.
Three slaves were trailing a dead lion away,
One, a dead man. He stumbled in, and sat
Blinded; but when the momentary gloom,
Made by the noonday blaze without, had left
His aged eyes, he raised them, and beheld
A blood-red awning waver overhead,
The dust send up a steam of human blood,
The gladiators moving toward their fight,

And eighty thousand Christian faces watch
Man murder man. A sudden strength from heaven,
As some great shock may wake a palsied limb,
Turn'd him again to boy, for up he sprang,
And glided lightly down the stairs, and o’er
The barrier that divided beast from man
Slipt, and ran on, and flung himself between
The gladiatorial swords, and call’d “Forbear
In the great name of Him who died for men,
Christ Jesus!” For one moment afterward
A silence follow'd as of death, and then
A hiss as from a wilderness of snakes,
Then one deep roar as of a breaking sea,
And then a shower of stones that stoned him dead,
And then once more a silence as of death.

His dream became a deed that woke the world,
For while the frantic rabble in half-amaze
Stared at him dead, thro' all the nobler hearts
In that vast Oval ran a shudder of shame.
The Baths, the Forum gabbled of his death,
And preachers linger'd o'er his dying words,
Which would not die, but echo'd on to reach
Honorius, till he heard them, and decreed
That Rome no more should wallow in this old lust
Of Paganism, and make her festal hour
Dark with the blood of man who murder'd man.



[Tiresias, and other Poems 1885.]
The years that made the stripling wise

Undo their work again,
And leave him, blind of heart and eyes,

The last and least of men;

« AnteriorContinuar »