LORD DE TABLEY
CHAPMAN fcf HALL
Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON <& Co.
At the Ballantyne Press
The Isolation of Selfish Prosperity
. . . I
A Wisp of Epic
: . . 8
. . ' . 15
. , .16
. , . 17
. . 18
XIV. . . .
The Old Warrior ....
. - . . 22
Too Fair to Last . . . _ . . f
A Ballad .' . . , ' .
The Wounded King 28
The Prodigal . ( . . . . . ... 30
Allowance ......... 33
A Song . .,,.,. ( , , . . . . . 33
The Royal Aspects of the Earth . * ' . . . . 34
Eucrates ......... 41
The Nymph and the Hunter . . .''.'. 45
Autumn Love 48
Separated Fortunes 49
The Red-Breast 50
The Cardinal's Lament 51
Medea ' . .58
One View of Worship 66
The Two Old Kings 68
Ode to the Sun 75
The Garden of Delight . . . . . . 79
At the Council 80
Arrow of Love 82
An Autumn Serenade 85
Nature's Renewing . 85
A Meeting and Advice 87
" Love Shadows " 89
The King's Monologue 91
The New Ahasuerus 98
Rosamond ......... 100
Daedalus . . . 104
Niobe . . 106
The Sale at the Farm * ' . .108
The Lament of Phaethon's Sisters . . . .112
Joan of Arc . . . . . . . . .114
Machiavel in Minimis . , , . . . .120
A Heathen to his Idol (In Time of Peace) . . . 127
A Heathen to his Idol (In Time of War) . . ' : . 130
The Strange Parable j : . 133
The Siren to Ulysses '.- ''-. 138
The Count of Senlis at his Toilet . . . .140
In Arcadia '. 1 ' '- ''" 143
Ode to Pan <<p'< ' * 146
An Expostulation 150
Philoctetes , ' . 154
Orestes '^ ;'. 200
A Hymn to Astarte ". 260
A Woodland Grave 269
A Simple Maid . . . . . . ."'. 271
Fortune's Wheel ' . 272
On a Portrait of Sir John Suckling . . . 277
A Song of Faith Forsworn . . . . < - . 281
The Study of a Spider . . . . . .282
Jael ' ; '' * ' : - t'"- : . 283
Nuptial Song Ij. */ . 290
Retrospect ' ^ ' . 291
Zeus , ' - 293
A Leave-Taking . 296
He May Who Can 297
Ophelia '^ . 298
Nimrod " ':. 299
The Knight in the Wood . . . .'.'. 302
The Churchyard on the Sands 303
A Lament for Adonis 306
The Ocean Wood . . . . ' '/* / * ' . 308
An Ode 308
The Pilgrim Cranes 310
Pandora . . . . . . . . .311
Love Grown Old . . ;...'. . 322
Be Wise in Time
A Madrigal 324
A Frosty Day 326
The Bird of my Love 327
Carpe Diem 330
Rural Evening 333
The Power of Interval 333
A Renunciation 334
Sleep and Sunset 335
A Pastoral ,' ,. . . 336
R eg r et 337
The Nymph's Protest . . , . . . . 339
The Defeat of Glory 340
The Island of Circe 346
Echo, Cloud, and Breeze 348
The Children of the Gods 348
Fugaces Anni 351
The Prodigal 352
Auguries of May 352
Echoes of Hellas . . 354
The Saint and the Sun 355
An Idyll . 355
An Invocation 357
The Spirit of Even 358
Ode to Fortune ...->. 359
Orpheus in Hades 362
The March of Glory 371
A Hymn to Aphrodite 373
Circe V , * . 378
Hellas and Rome 383
A Winter Sketch 389
A Song of Dust 39x5
The Death of Phaethon 393
Anthea's Garland 399
The First Madrigal 401
An Ode to a Star . ! ' . 402
A Serenade 404
The Second Madrigal 405
Infatuation -" -^. 4S
The Tomb : An Allegory . . . .<_ - ;. . 406
Anticipation ~ . 406
A Churchyard Yew . . 407
The Haughty Lady Condemns Love and Despises
The Tragedy of Childhood 412
The Windmill ' . . 413
Roland at Roncesvalles . . . . >.... .. 415
The Absent Mariner 415
A Lament ' ; . ' r. . . 416
Hodge Prologizes at his Public . . . ... ''< ., 416
The Wine of Life .* . 418
Orpheus in Thrace 420
Napoleon the Great
France < ' . 425
Waterloo ........ 427
St. Helena 429
The Invalides 430
A Parting . 430
The Stoic's Creed t > - . 431
The Lament of Echo 433
The Spear of Achilles 435
On a Queen's Palace in Ruins 436
What the Bird Sings 438
The End of a Delusion . . . .'.''. 440
A Cradle Song : . . 442
The Sick Flower . 444
An Eleusinian Chant 445
Carpe Diem . . . . . . . 449
The Waking Skylark . 450
An Old Man's Consolation 450
Sorrow Invincible 452
The Hedge 454
At Heaven's Gate 456
A Song of Despair 458
Lines to a Lady- Bird . . . . .'.'. 461
The Ballad of Life 463
The Invitation 466
The Dirge of Day .- .. ; ?* . . . .468
In Sicily 471
The Sailing Ship . 474
" What Should a Man Desire ?" ..*.. ... :.'( . 475
A Future . . \ . 477
The Posy of a Wedding Ring 477
Love's Birth 478
The Old Earl . 47
A Dirge . 479
A Mother's Dirge 480
A Sketch at Athens 480
The Oread 482
A Song of the Rolling Wind . . ; ti :+, ( 483
THE ISOLATION OF SELFISH PROSPERITY
To strive is something, yet to win is more.
The crowned angels from their state declined ;
And traitor pride shall make the nations blind
In days to come as in the days of yore.
To win is something, but content is more.
The brooks, the fountains, and the crystal meres
Are things forbidden in the restless ears
Of Care ; he tastes no beauty in the shore
Hung with the morning, for his dreams are sere :
And, though he seat him on a throne of gold,
He cannot hear the birds sing as of old ;
And all his earlier self is grown a fear.
His eyes are on the forward region spent :
The past let fools repair, and girls regret,
And first-love dreams leave dotards' eyelids wet ;
Such things are gone. He cares not how they went.
Canker'd with self and his false Mammon-King,
He boasts at large, " I am not as my race,
With me men's petty loves, dreams, ends give place
To high indifference ; hours can never ring
Love changes, matter for a neighbour's sneer,
On my mail'd breast : let boys and girls go whine
The shed rose leaves of passion deem'd divine.
I am not of their weakness, shall I fear ? "
COMFORT my heart, thou sweetness, and unveil
Those orient eyes that wore such tender pale
Of dawn, that old loves shut their stars and fail :
Dear, if thou boldest all my will in power,
Mould out the echo of this tremulous hour,
And make me strong, as thou art sweet in flower,
To crush the wrestling years beneath my knee,
And fight the crafty future craftily,
And rest at hours again a child with thee.
Take thy sweet time, invest my blood with warm,
I sleep on thy word-music, move this charm,
Nor leave this careful world one sting to harm.
MY sense is dull. The tremulous evening glows :
The weeds of night coast round her lucid edge,
Yoked under bulks of tributary cloud.
The leaves are shaken on the forest flowers,
And silent as the silence of a shrine
Lies a great power of sunset on the groves.
Grayly the fingered shadows dwell between
The reaching chestnut branches. Gray the mask
Of twilight, and the bleak unmellow speed
Of blindness on the visage of fresh hills.
My soul is melted in pale aching dreams,
I feign some nearing issue in new time,
On which I wait, for which I think and move :
A haunting drift that guides me by a glimpse
To lovely things and meteor affluence.
I wander in my silence, incomplete.
My lonely feet are dew'd in chilly flowers,
And I am full of fever and alone
The cup without its acorn, the brook bed
Dry of its stream, the chalice ebb'd of wine,
The deep night listening for its rising morn,
The droughty plain that sees the rain-cloud pause,
And hears the falling drift sing towards its breast.
The voice of dreams is sweet upon my brain,
Has fed me on thin comfort many a day,
Since all my mind was tender, and a child
Rich in the girlish impulse of ripe dreams
I threw my song upon the wind, or pored
On all this glorious nature and its blaze
Ineffable, enormous. I could guess
The thriving summer toward, as the globe
That metes the still year's process, and the edge
Of March-days sweetened in warm April's tread
Levied the wavering clouds to do him praise,
And all their folds were bright against his head.
I pondered out the wonder-veiling years,
And still I dwelt on light in all my dreams,
Some strange great yearning : dim on forest-waves
The large eye-blinding radiance sheeted out,
And withered up the film of hooded peaks
To set their dinted vales with faltering fires :
As cloudy hollows claspt in buoyant green
Took savour of wood-incense from the drench
Of lime-boughs limp with perfume-searching rains,
Methought at times the wildered spirit paused
In blindness on an edge of glory, faint
And trembling. Milky shiverings of cloud
Crept in meridian smoothly towards a sea
Where evening held in bright her western bars,
And all the full blue level glow'd again
Under a glowing sky.
I speak my soul
With words and signs and symbols of weak sound.
I cannot clasp the meaning as it lies,
I cannot blend with shallow speech my dream.
I, reeling from the level of my brain,
Would mix with flowery essence, or exchange
Life with an amaranth, so look heaven in face
A summer thro', and draw the zenith dews
Drizzled between the twilights, ere the streak
Of morning touch celestial thro' the halls
Of Nature, with the echo of a bird,
A startled leaflet, and an opening flower.
And thus I read the sacred loveliness
Of Heaven's clear face, unseen as stars by day,
But there no less tho' weak eyes reach them not
Till on the vagueness of thin thought there came
Substantial impress : on the dreamy mist
A presence and a deity behind
Concentred yet pervasive. Silent eyes
Gave greeting, and, in wordless promise, sign
Of imminent revealment, and great lights,
Deep harmony and thunders, as the voice
Of breakers breaking on low-margin'd seas.
Thou all-enfolding ether, thou clear God,
Shall I profane thy fair immensity,
Or bound thy boundless essence in a name
Spoken as men can speak it between lips
That tell but half their thought, whose thought is weak ?
Thou whom I only guess thro' my desire,
A far attainment, inmost prophecy,
An instinct and a voiceless oracle,
To enter where we would be, and be one ;
There, face to face, to touch and be complete,
And shed our craving from us like old leaves
That grate beside the crowded knots of spring.
Come, thou great bliss, I have been patient long.
My lonely arms entreat thee from thy state.
Come, thro' the vaulted blue a burning sun.
Come, as the night comes, fielded round with stars !
My soul is throbbing, as a moonless sea,
Flood out thy rich beams full upon her breast !
MY son, my son, there is no stir of hope.
These days are rough, and ere my latest fight
The graying twilight blinds the morning's eyes.
Deep have I tasted those accursed wells
Of disobedience : deeply wasted rule,
And made my throne a haven for the deed.
Come, come, the proudest soul that ever trod
Is pillage merely for some crushing hour,
And that is stored for all. I cannot mend,
And will not shrink. Fear mends not chance or change.
Perchance my doom is ripe and I must fall.
1 murmur not, for I have much endur'd,
Nor prosper'd in my sin or in my pride,
But fever'd out my heart from shame to shame :
Shame is as praise where all is set to fall.
I that have dared to tamper with the dead,
To break the ancient prophet from his sleep,
Deliberate in election to foreknow
The drift of evil, and made firm my face
Beyond the scale of horror, to untear
Death and their secrets from the denizens
Of his oblivious city, shall I shrink
Or bate one inch off purpose till the end ?
I stand between the oracles of doom.
The wild wind passes on the cloudy banks
And raises out an interval of light.
This is the day, my soul. This is the day.
Shall I sit down and weep ? What help to weep,
What harm to die ? Small profit this my rule :
A thing of custom merely that outgrows
The will to move it from us, which removed
There lives beyond no comfort in the light ;
But craving, that in realmless abstinence
Rivets the ache of loss, where loss is gain
To limit old confusions, which of old
Raught from my helm the garland of its praise
And set my face to this perpetual rest.
Could I unlive my trespass, and the doom
Of this day's fight, to tread again the ways
Of earthly custom, taste smooth hope once more,
Be man with men, talk trifles, wake and sleep :
Should I be changed ? Small change till I be dead.
What years have grained and ringed into the tree
Falls not for one night's shaking. I am proud,
I cannot take meek eyes and smile upon
My shepherd rival. He or I must cease.
My realm is narrow for a second King.
He prospers as I perish, for his hands
Are strengthened and some demon works me down,
Else had I crushed this stripling at his sheep.
I never sought this ruling curse of rule.
Who shall convince me that I sought to rule ?
I sinn'd not as I was and sought no higher.
How then is this my guilt to fail beneath
Unwilling burden ? I have done some wrong,
But royal trespass this, and such as Kings
Could only sin. The wrong is theirs that chose.
They huddled on my rule and I was King.
They cannot twit me with an ounce of fear
Whenas I led their armies. That at least
Is something in this waning of my name.
What else is left? To arm and surely die.
It shall be done. 'Tis easier passage straight
Where there is turning none and no retreat.
Perchance the spirit mock'd me to my doom.
It is a lying spirit from its lord
Of lies and fire, who steals a holy shape :
My sick brain cannot sunder false and true
Nay, for I heard his voice and heard my doom,
And he that sleeps at Ramah will not lie.
Give me thy sword. Philistia, lo I come !
Glut all your spears upon me. 'Tis more brave
To wrestle with a certainty of doom
Than to be still in apathy and die.
I know the issue. I am set to fall.
What need to redden eyes with slavish tears ?
I feel the end. I front it and it comes.
I HAVE framed my life to ruling, ruling men,
This is the next prerogative to Zeus,
Who wears the cope of Kingship over Gods,
Who metes me out a little lording nook
Beside his spacious glory for a time,
Until the tale of years disorb my hand,
And set a graveward darkness on my brain
Decreed to earth, and make my voice a dream.
So thou rule on, no wrinkle in thy crown,
Zeus, and thy full lips fade not thro' the years.
What is more noble in our cloudy day
Of shift and error than to nourish peace,
And hold the sacred justice of a king
With marble purpose firm from day to year,
Wedding the strength of order to our realm :
Not less the King shall watch and wait he may
Unroot confusion, the blind mole that mines
The seat of princes from their solid stay.
This is my mark of purpose slowly won,
Most slowly : year on year the long years went
And won me something nearer. In firm eyes
I held the wavering beacon. And men came,
My councillors, and laughed against my dreams
Of truth and right. They said the world was young,
Too young to cramp her legs by shackled rule,
And crush out man's fierce nature by the square.
To portion with one justice friend and slave,
Amercing equal penalties between
The hands that tugged our battles and the hind
Of capture, strangled empire in its germ ;
This led a flush'd sedition at its heels,
This rent the key-stone arch of policy,
This palsied friendly nerve, this moved the feet
Of rival armies, numb ingratitude,
This made shrewd fighters deal with lazy strokes.
But I nor fail'd nor wander'd from my drift,
And king it still, unseated by the storm,
Calm in the wreck on neighbour thrones, secure
Where others crack'd to core whose root was Wrong.
Obedience, Reason, Discipline, Reserve,
On these I founded empire as strong hills,
That warp not nor are shaken thro' the years.
I slept and waken'd till their seed was grown.
I watch'd them as the Sun doth watch the Sea,
Stretching an arm of glory from the verge
To shield her all the morning of his beams.
Much have I done : that much is but a brand
From that remainder forest which shall fall
Before their sturdy pioneers lead on
Freedom and Justice and the Golden Age.
The white sea glimmers thro' the palace shafts.
A WISP OF EPIC
My galleys beat to mainland rich in store,
Rich in the wealth that smooths the lives of men
And gives them higher natures. Out at sea
A scarf of air-mist wavers on the moon.
The torrents hold their music, and I scent
A riping vintage from the Cretan hills,
And harvest on illimitable plains.
My people turn to rest secure of wrong,
And not one lip but loves me for its sleep.
I have lived to great result, have seen my wish
Ripen to deed, sole attribute of Gods :
Gods only choose the means and grasp the end.
For, as in dreams that on some purpose verge
We waken ere that purpose, so our ears
Shall seldom hear the wind among the boughs
Whose seed was ours.
I am a man with men.
This is unstable glory. I am old,
And I, that love my work, must leave my work,
The eldest moving life between the suns.
I, that have wrestled doom aside to glance
An hour upon completion, glance and die.
The grave has had full patience. Yet I weep
To leave my solid toil and this fair land
To weaker keeping. Shall this icy thought
Comfort my bones, that all my work is wind,
This Isle a cry of pirates?
O my heart !
I hunger not this life as fools desire
A selfish dream of food and sleep and lust.
I am content. The corner of a mound
Is room enough, if I could find a hand
Wherein to trust my sceptre, so to sleep.
A WISP OF EPIC
AND the gray King strode fiercely from the board,
And wrench'd away and trampled on his crown :
But she, the princess, arm'd his neck and clung
With quivering lips and dreamy staring eyes.
And down the board the level feasters, each
A WISP OF EPIC
And all, one impulse, rose like that long wave
When tide-flood takes a river. Vassal peers
Enring'd their muttering knots ; but, midmost, knelt
A knight who bled between his shattered mails.
He, reeling from his saddle, sick and blind,
Scared thro' the courts with missive, blank as death
Had burst their feast like Pestilence, and cried
Their frontier army broken, back and edge,
In ambush : all its bravest mown away :
And, woe the while, their prince the rumour gave
Lost in the trammell'd tangle of the slain,
Or wounded yet unfound but likelier slain.
So all that night the gray King and his child
Clomb a high chamber o'er the woods, and watch'd
That way their army went by mountains based
In shelves of ilex went, but when should come ?
And, ere heaven's stubborn bar and sable screen
Crumbled in purple chains of sailing shower
And bared the captive morning in her cell,
Their lean hope wasted on the watchers' eyes
And fleeted from the impenetrable mask
Dead, as the new light lingered.
That wan king
Leant to each palm a hoary cheek, and sate,
His owl-white hairs shed out, his reedy beard
Held what he wept and thro' its woof each moan
Trembled in vapour, and his lids were set.
But she, an eloquent presence of despair,
Drew, regal, all her height : her lordly eyes,
Robed in the morning that she sought in vain
Beyond the casement, rested on the void
Gazing thro' distance : horn and hoof were dumb
Between the sightless woods, but darkness held
Blind as her soul was darkened.
Last, she turned
And found the old King moaning in a trance,
Not wholly wakeful, drowsy in his pain,
Mowing and whispering ; and she said,
" My Liege,
I cannot taste thin morning from the downs.
A grieving wind is on the troubled cloud,
But here it comes not thro' the woolly mist.
A false red dawn hath yonder ridge bestrid
To cheat the midnight of her dotard hours :
TO A WISP OF EPIC
Watch'd morning loiters from the watchers' eyes.
No throbbing clarion melts against the wall
Of this cool dark : the gray night round is dumb,
And ear and eyeball tingle with the strain
Of void and silence : from the inmost heart
Of woodland fails all motion : calm the hills
As flaky tossings frozen in nebulous seas.
I will not cheat thy comfort that they come."
She shook her accents from her as she stood
With raised and lucent elbows ; here declined
Her rich and languid head against her palms ;
Tight fingers counter-knit behind the black
And banded hair, convulsive in their close,
So strained it in her passion and her pain.
Not less the wild expectance in her eyes
Refrained their tears, as mute the smooth pure lips
Tighten'd in restless workings on the pearl,
Barrier of their lost music.
So they twain
Spake nothing, yet in gloom the old King's eyes
Glitter'd with beaded anguish, for his age
Was as an infant's with an honest face
Denying not its weakness : and the nails
Of his lean fingers grated on his robe
Crackling the furry velvets, fold on fold,
And his vein'd wrists were palsied as they strove
Among the foldings, till his voice came low
As a weak wind is scared and faint among
The heavy clusters of primeval woods,
And crisps but never lifts them till the rain
Utterly stamp it dead,
" Dissolve and die,
My withered brain : the tide is set ; the dust
Is on my temples. Empire of dumb Sleep,
Thine I am owed and thine I come. The change
Is terrorless, my rule a crumbled dream.
Look in my face, O daughter, search it well,
I live to speak a blind and horrible word,
Ay so, as you to hear it : lo ! 'tis said
He will return no more and yet no more !
Why so it is, the silent hand takes all.
There is no mercy that the flower is fair
But speedier scythes of ambush. What revenge
Is there against the inevitable? Lift
Thy prophet eyes, usurp the right to see
A WISP OF EPIC ii
Harvest of curses on the harmless dead,
The vermin dregs of war's encrimson'd cup
Spilling confusions on our wholesome land
All in this bitter word ' my son is dead ! ' "
She moved not as he ended in her calm,
She would not weep, she could not comfort him,
But at her eyes the chamber spun, and fierce,
Fierce as a scathe, the wrestle at her heart
Tightens and throbs, or subtler shudders rive
The disunited, desolated hands
Listless of use and nervelessly disspread ;
At length she labour'd tremulous reply,
Passionate answer, and her lips were pale.
" Die not, great heart, unfinish'd ere thy noon,
Fail not, firm star of glory, from thy seat
Aerial, rapt above our shallow dreams.
So many barren things grow fat and thrive
And taste no evil all their barren days,
That this, our love, can never quench so soon,
Whose course was on the shoreless seas of fame,
His wake one tremulous glory, and full stars
Leapt in the rolling amber at his prow.
Die and we die : our breath is nothing worth ;
We are but shadows moving in Thy will,
Thine intercepted radiance makes us be.
The empire of thy worship is not dead,
But prospers growing rich in fruit and sign."
And now the broad and sunless vapour-downs
Shook their sloped limbs from coiling haze : behind
From cloud to cloud the purple caught, one star
Crept to the void before it : ragged lights
Struck in the crowded peaks and cloudy zones,
And then the full round splendour of the day.
Till there was warning mutter 3 d thro' the stems
Of storied pines, and trailing drips of yews,
Drench'd moistures of all fragrance, where the sound
Clung deadened as it leapt from armed feet.
They heard it and they started with fierce eyes
Father and maiden as irresolute,
Wearily, scared to face the thing they knew.
Wail was there none, and barely any moan ;
They on each other gazed, touch'd hands, and went
With pause from stair to stair on shivering limbs,
i 2 A WISP OF EPIC
And, issuing thro' the column'd archway, stood,
Pale in great light and paler from its power.
Then from the leaves there wended shield and helm :
It seemed the flower of knights with some great wrong
Concluded, for no power was in their tread ;
But they crept on like walkers from their sleep,
Staring and thronging, knot by knot, they came :
And in the midmost core of that dumb band
A something propt in slumber on a bier,