George Green Loane.

A book of story poems online

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" Now I see his strength excelling: whence he buys it: what he

pays:

'Tis a God who has a dwelling in the fount, to whom he prays.
Thither came he weeping, drooping, till the Well-God heard his

prayer:
Now behold him, soaring, swooping, as an eagle through the air.

" O thou God, by whatsoever sounds of awe thy name we know,
Grant thy servant equal favour with the stranger and the foe !
Equal grace, 'tis all I covet ; and if sacrificial blood
Win thy favour, thou shalt have it on thy very well-brink, God !

" What and though I've given pledges not to cross the leech's
court? 120

Not to pass his sheltering hedges, meant I to his patient's hurt.
Thy dishonour meant I never : never meant I to forswear
Right divine of prayer wherever Power divine invites to prayer.

Sun that warm'st me, Wind that fann'st me, ye that guarantee

the oath,

Make no sign of wrath against me: tenderly ye touch me both.
Yea, then, through his fences stealing ere to-morrow's sun shall rise,
Well-God ! on thy margin kneeling, I will offer sacrifice."



96 STORY POEMS

" Brother, rise, the skies grow ruddy : if we yet would save our sire,
Rests a deed courageous, bloody, wondering ages shall admire:
Hie thee to the spy-rock's summit; ready there thou'lt find the

sling; 130

Ready there the leaden plummet; and at dawn he seeks the

spring."

Ruddy dawn had changed to amber : radiant as the yellow day,
Conall issuing from his chamber, to the fountain took his way :
There, athwart the welling water, like a fallen pillar, spread,
Smitten by the bolt of slaughter, lay Connacia's champion dead.

Call the hosts ! convene the judges ! cite the dead man's children

both!
Said the judges, " He gave pledges; Sun and Wind; and broke

the oath,
And they slew him: so we've written: let his sons attend our

'words."

" Both, by sudden frenzy smitten, fell at sunrise on their swords."

Then the judges, " Ye who punish man's prevaricating vow, 140
Needs not further to admonish : contrite to their will we bow,
All our points of promise keeping: safely let the chief go forth."
Conall to his chariot leaping, turned his coursers to the north:

In the Sun that swept the valleys, in the Wind's encircling flight, j
Recognising holy allies, guardians of the Truth and Right;
While, before his face, resplendent with a firm faith's candid ray, .
Dazzled troops of foes attendant, bow'd before him on his way.



SIR SAMUEL FERGUSON 97

But the calm physician, viewing where the white neck join'd the

ear,

Said, " It is a slinger's doing: Sun nor Wind was actor here.
Yet till God vouchsafe more certain knowledge of his sovereign

will, 150

Better deem the mystic curtain hides their wonted demons still.

" Better so, perchance, than living in a clearer light, like me,
But believing where perceiving, bound in what I hear and see;
Force and change in constant sequence, changing atoms, change-
less laws;
Only in submissive patience waiting access to the Cause."

SIR SAMUEL FERGUSON.



98 STORY POEMS



XXII. THE DEATH OF CUCHULAIN

A MAN came slowly from the setting sun,
To Forgail's daughter, Emer, in her dun,
And found her dyeing cloth with subtle care,
And said, casting aside his draggled hair:
" I am Aleel, the swineherd, whom you bid
Go dwell upon the sea cliffs, vapour-hid;
But now my years of watching are no more.' 1

Then Emer cast the web upon the floor,

And stretching out her arms, red with the dye,

Parted her lips with a loud sudden cry. 10

Looking on her, Aleel, the swineherd, said:
" Not any god alive, nor mortal dead,
Has slain so mighty armies, so great kings,
Nor won the gold that now Cuchulain brings."

11 Why do you tremble thus from feet to crown? "
Aleel, the swineherd, wept and cast him down
Upon the web-heaped floor, and thus his word:
" With him is one sweet-throated like a bird. 1 '

" Who bade you tell these things? " and then she

cried 20

To those about, " Beat him with thongs of hide

Cuchulain. Pronounce Cooh6olan.

2. Dun. Fortified residence of a chief.



W. B. YEATS 99

And drive him from the door/' And thus it was;
And where her son, Finmole, on the smooth grass
Was driving cattle, came she with swift feet,
And called out to him, " Son, it is not meet
That you stay idling here with flock and herds."

" I have long waited, mother, for those words;
But wherefore now? "

" There is a man to die;

You have the heaviest arm under the sky/' 30

i

" My father dwells among the sea-worn bands,
And breaks the ridge of battle with his hands."

" Nay, you are taller than Cuchulain, son."
" He is the mightiest man in ship or dun."

" Nay, he is old and sad with many wars,
And weary of the crash of battle cars."

" I only ask what way my journey lies,

For God, who made you bitter, made you wise."

" The Red Branch kings a tireless banquet keep,
Where the sun falls into the Western deep, 40
Go there, and dwell on the green forest rim ;
But tell alone your name and house to him
Whose blade compels, and bid them send you one
Who has a like vow from their triple dun."



ioo STORY POEMS

Between the lavish shelter of a wood

And the grey tide, the Red Branch multitude

Feasted, and with them old Cuchulain dwelt,

And his young dear one close beside him knelt,

And gazed upon the wisdom of his eyes,

More mournful than the depth of starry skies, 50

And pondered on the wonder of his days;

And all around the harp-string told his praise,

And Concobar, the Red Branch king of kings,

With his own fingers touched the brazen strings.

At last Cuchulain spake, " A young man strays

Driving the deer along the woody ways.

I often hear him singing to and fro,

I often hear the sweet sound of his bow.

Seek out what man he is."

One went and came.

" He bade me let all know he gives his name 60
At the sword point, and bade me bring him one
Who had a like vow from our triple dun."

" I only of the Red Branch hosted now,"
Cuchulain cried, " have made and keep that vow."

After short fighting in the leafy shade,

He spake to the young man, " Is there no maid

Who loves you, no white arms to wrap you round,

Or do you long for the dim sleepy ground,

That you come here to meet this ancient sword? "

53. Concobar. Connor.



W. B. YEATS 101

1 ' The dooms of men are in God's hidden hoard." 70

" Your head a while seemed like a woman's head
That I loved once."

Again the fighting sped,
But now the war rage in Cuchulain woke,
And through the other's shield his .long blade

broke,
And pierced him.

" vSpeak before your breath is done."

" I am Finmole, mighty Cuchulain's son."
" I put you from your pain. I can no more."

While day its burden on to evening bore,
With head bowed on his knees Cuchulain stayed;
Then Concobar sent that sweet-throated maid, 80
And she, to win him, his grey hair caressed:
In vain her arms, in vain her soft white breast.
Then Concobar, the subtlest of all men,
Ranking his Druids round him ten by ten,
Spake thus, " Cuchulain will dwell there and brood,
For three days more in dreadful quietude,
And then arise, and raving slay us all.
Go, cast on him delusions magical,
That he may fight the waves of the loud sea."
And ten by ten under a quicken tree, 90

The Druids chaurited, swaying in their hands
Tall wands of alder and white quicken wands.
90. Quicken tree. Mountain-ash; rowan.



102 STORY POEMS

In three days' time, Cuchulain with a moan
Stood up, and came to the long sands alone:
For four days warred he with the bitter tide ;
And the waves flowed above him, and he died.

W. B. YEATS.



XXIII. LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI

i
" WHAT can ail thee, knight-at-arms,

Alone and palely loitering ?
The sedge has wither 'd from the lake,

And no birds sing.

ii

what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?

The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done.

in

1 see a lily on thy brow

With anguish moist and fever deW ; 10

And on thy cheek a fading rose
Fast withereth too."

IV

" I met a lady in the meads,

Full beautiful a faery's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.



JOHN KEATS 103



I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone ;

She look'd at me as she did love,

And made sweet moan. 20

VI

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,

For sideways would she bend, and sing
A faery's song.

VII

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew,

And sure in language strange she said,
' I love thee true/

VIII

She took me to her elfin grot,

And there she wept and sigh'd full sore, 30
And there I shut her wild wild eyes

With kisses four.

IX

And there she lulled me asleep,

And there I dream 'd ah! woe betide!

The latest dream I ever dream'd
On the cold hill side.



104 STORY POEMS



I saw pale kings and princes too,

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all ;

Who cry'd ' La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Thee hath in thrall! ' 40



XI

I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gaped wide,

And I awoke, and found me here
On the cold hill side.



XII

And this is why I sojourn here,

Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,

And no birds sing."

JOHN KEATS.



XXIV. LOVE

ALL thoughts, all passions, all delights,

Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
And feed his sacred flame.



S. T. COLERIDGE 105

Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o'er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay,
Beside the ruined tower.



The moonshine, stealing o'er the scene
Had blended with the lights of eve; 10

And she was there, my hope, my joy,
My own dear Genevieve!

She leant against the armed man,
The statue of the armed knight ;
She stood and listened to my lay,
Amid the lingering light.

Few sorrows hath she of her own.
My hope! my joy! my Genevieve!
She loves me best, whene'er I sing

The songs that make her grieve. 20

Fplayed a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story-r-
An old rude song, that suited well
That ruin wild and hoary.

She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew, I could not choose
But gaze upon her face.



io6 STORY POEMS

I told her of the Knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand; 30

And that for ten long years he wooed
The Lady of the Land.

I told her how he pined: and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another's love,
Interpreted my own.

She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes, and modest grace ;
And she forgave me, that I gazed

Too fondly on her face! 40



But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he crossed the mountain-woods,
Nor rested day nor night ;

That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
In green and sunny glade,

There came and looked him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright ; 50

And that he knew it was a Fiend,
This miserable Knight !



S. T. COLERIDGE 107

And that unknowing what he did,
He leaped amid a murderous band,
And saved from outrage worse than death
The Lady of the Land!

And how she wept, and clasped his knees;
And how she tended him in vain
And ever strove to expiate

The scorn that crazed his brain; 60



And that she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest-leaves
A dying man he lay;

His dying words but when I reached
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faltering voice and pausing harp
Disturbed her soul with pity !

All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrilled my guileless Genevieve; 70

The music and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve;

And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
Subdued and cherished long!



io8 STORY POEMS

She wept with pity and delight,

She blushed with love, and virgin shame;

And like the murmur of a dream,

I heard her breathe my name. 80

Her bosom heaved she stepped aside,
As conscious of my look she stepped
Then suddenly, with timorous eye
She fled to me and wept.

She half enclosed me with her arms,
She pressed me with a meek embrace;
And bending back her head, looked up,
And gazed upon my face.

'Twas partly love, and partly fear,
And partly 'twas a bashful art, 90

That I might rather feel, than see,
The swelling of her heart.

I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,

My bright and beauteous Bride.

S. T. COLERIDGE.



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 109



XXV. THE SENSITIVE PLANT

PART I

A SENSITIVE PLANT in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew,
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light,
And closed them beneath the kisses of Night.

And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere ;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

But none ever trembled and panted with bliss
In the garden, the field, or the wilderness, 10

Like a doe in the noontide with love's sweet want
As the companionless Sensitive Plant.

The snowdrop, and then the violet,

Arose from the ground with warm rain wet,

And their breath was mixed with fresh odour, sent

From the turf, like the voice and the instrument

Then the pied wind-flowers and the tulip tall,
And narcissi, the fairest among them all,
Who gaze on their eyes in the stream's recess,
Till they die of their own dear loveliness ; 20



no STORY POEMS

And the Naiad-like lily of the vale,
Whom youth makes so fair and passion so pale
That the light of its tremulous bells is seen
Through their pavilions of tender green ;

And the hyacinth purple, and white, and blue,
Which flung from its bells a sweet peal anew
Of music so delicate, soft, and intense,
It was felt like an odour within the sense;

And the rose like a nymph to the bath addressed,
Which unveiled the depth of her glowing breast, 30
Till, fold after fold, to the fainting air
The soul of her beauty and love lay bare:

And the wand-like lily, which lifted up,
As a Maenad, its moonlight-coloured cup,
Till the fiery star, which is its eye,
Gazed through clear dew on the tender sky;

And the jessamine faint, and the sweet tuberose,

The sweetest flower for scent that blows;

And all rare blossoms from every clime

Grew in that garden in perfect prime. 40

And on the stream whose inconstant bosom
Was pranked, under boughs of embowering blossom,
With golden and green light, slanting through
Their heaven of many a tangled hue,



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY in

Broad water-lilies lay tremulously,

And starry river-buds glimmered by,

And around them the soft stream did glide and dance

With a motion of sweet sound and radiance.

And the sinuous paths of lawn and of moss,
Which led through the garden along and across, 50
Some open at once to the sun and the breeze,
Some lost among bowers of blossoming trees,

Were all paved with daisies and delicate bells

As fair as the fabulous asphodels,

And flow'rets which, drooping as day drooped too,

Fell into pavilions, white, purple, and blue,

To roof the glow-worm from the evening dew.

And from this undefiled Paradise

The flowers (as an infant's awakening eyes

Smile on its mother, whose singing sweet 60

Can first lull, and at last must awaken it),

When Heaven's blithe winds had unfolded them,
As mine-lamps enkindle a hidden gem,
Shone smiling to Heaven, and every one
Shared joy in the light of the gentle sun;

For each one was interpenetrated
With the light and the odour its neighbour shed,
Like young lovers whom youth and love make dear,
Wrapped and filled by their mutual atmosphere.



H2 STORY POEMS

But the Sensitive Plant which could give small fruit 70
Of the love which it felt from the leaf to the root,
Received more than all, it loved more than ever,
Where none wanted but it, could belong to the giver:

For the Sensitive Plant has no bright flower;
Radiance and odour are not its dower;
It loves, even like Love, its deep heart is full,
It desires what it has not, the Beautiful !

The light winds which from unsustaining wings
Shed the music of many murmurings ;
The beams which dart from many a star 80

Of the flowers whose hues they bear afar;

The plumed insects swift and free,
Like golden boats on a sunny sea,
Laden with light and odour, which pass
Over the gleam of the living grass ;

The unseen clouds of the dew, which lie
Like fire in the flowers till the sun rides high,
Then wander like spirits among the spheres,
Each cloud faint with the fragrance it bears ;

The quivering vapours of dim noontide, 90

Which like a sea o'er the warm earth glide,
In which every sound, and odour, and beam,
Move, as reeds in a single stream ;



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 113

Each and all like ministering angels were
For the Sensitive Plant sweet joy to bear,
Whilst the lagging hours of the day went by
Like windless clouds o'er a tender sky.

And when evening descended from Heaven above,
And the Earth was all rest, and the air was all love,
And delight, though less bright, was far more deep, 100
And the day's veil fell from the world of sleep,

And the beasts, and the birds, and the insects were

drowned

In an ocean of dreams without a sound;
Whose waves never mark, though they ever impress
The light sand which paves it, consciousness;

(Only overhead the sweet nightingale

Ever sang more sweet as the day might fail,

And snatches of its Elysian chant

Were mixed with the dreams of the Sensitive Plant) ;

The Sensitive Plant was the earliest no

Upgathered into the bosom of rest ;
A sweet child weary of its delight,
The feeblest and yet the favourite,
Cradled within the embrace of Night.



ii 4 STORY POEMS

I

PART II

There was a Power in this sweet place,

An Eve in this Eden ; a ruling Grace

Which to the flowers, did they waken or dream,

Was as God is to the starry scheme.

A Lady, the wonder of her kind,
Whose form was upborne by a lovely mind 120

Which, dilating, had moulded her mien and motion
Like a sea-flower unfolded beneath the ocean,

Tended the garden from morn to even:
And the meteors of that sublunar Heaven,
Like the lamps of the air when Night walks forth,
Laughed round her footsteps up from the Earth !

She had no companion of mortal race,
But her tremulous breath and her flushing face
Told, whilst the morn kissed the sleep from her eyes,
That her dreams were less slumber than Paradise: 130

As if some bright Spirit for her sweet sake

Had deserted Heaven while the stars were awake,

As if yet around her he lingering were,

Though the veil of daylight concealed him from her.

Her step seemed to pity the grass it pressed;
You might hear by the heaving of her breast,
That the coming and going of the wind
Brought pleasure there and left passion behind.



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 115

And wherever her aery footstep trod,
Her trailing hair from the grassy sod 140

Erased its light vestige, with shadowy sweep,
Like a sunny storm o'er the dark green deep.

I doubt not the flowers of that garden sweet
Rejoiced in the sound of her gentle feet;
I doubt not they felt the spirit that came
From her glowing fingers through all their frame.

She sprinkled bright water from the stream

On those that were faint with the sunny beam;

And out of the cups of the heavy flowers

She emptied the rain of the thunder-showers. 150

She lifted their heads with her tender hands,
And sustained them with rods and osier-bands;
If the flowers had been her own infants, she
Could never have nursed them more tenderly.

And all killing insects and gnawing worms,
And things of obscene and unlovely forms,
She bore, in a basket of Indian woof,
Into the rough woods far aloof,

In a basket, of grasses and wild-flowers full,
The freshest her gentle hands could pull 160

For the poor banished insects, whose intent,
Although they did ill, was innocent.



n6 STORY POEMS

But the bee and the beamlike ephemeris
Whose path is the lightning's, and soft moths that kiss
The sweet lips of the flowers, and harm not, did she
Make her attendant angels be.

And many an antenatal tomb,

Where butterflies dream of the life to come,

She left clinging round the smooth and dark

Edge of the odorous cedar bark. 170

This fairest creature from earliest Spring
Thus moved through the garden ministering
All the sweet season of Summertide,
And ere the first leaf looked brown she died!



PART III

Three days the flowers of the garden fair,
Like stars when the moon is awakened, were,
Or the waves of Baiae, ere luminous
She floats up through the smoke of Vesuvius.

And on the fourth, the Sensitive Plant

Felt the sound of the funeral chant, 180

And the steps of the bearers heavy and slow,

And the sobs of the mourners, deep and low ;

The weary sound and the heavy breath,
And the silent motions of passing death,
And the smell, cold, oppressive, and dank,
Sent through the pores of the coffin-plank ;



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 117

The dark grass, and the flowers among the grass,
Were bright with tears as the crowd did pass ;
From their sighs the wind caught a mournful tone,
And sate in the pines, and gave groan for groan.

The garden, once fair, became cold and foul, 191
Like the corpse of her who had been its soul,
Which at first was lovely as if in sleep,
Then slowly changed, till it grew a heap
To make men tremble who never weep.

Swift Summer into the Autumn flowed,
And frost in the mist of the morning rode,
Though the noonday sun looked clear and bright,
Mocking the spoil of the secret night.

The rose-leaves, like flakes of crimson snow, 200
Paved the turf and the moss below.
The lilies were drooping, and white, and wan,
Like the head and the skin of a dying man.

And Indian plants, of scent and hue
The sweetest that ever were fed on dew,
Leaf by leaf, day after day,
Were massed into the common clay.

And the leaves, brown, yellow, and grey, and red,
And white with the whiteness of what is dead,
Like troops of ghosts on the dry wind passed ; 210
Their whistling noise made the birds aghast.



n8 STORY POEMS

And the gusty winds waked the winged seeds,
Out of their birthplace of ugly weeds,
Till they clung round many a sweet flower's stem,
Which rotted into the earth with them.



The water-blooms under the rivulet
Fell from the stalks on which they were set ;
And the eddies drove them here and there,
As the winds did those of the upper air.

Then the rain came down, and the broken stalks 220
Were bent and tangled across the walks ;
And the leafless network of parasite bowers
Massed into ruin ; and all sweet flowers.

Between the time of the wind and the snow

All loathliest weeds began to grow,

Whose coarse leaves were splashed with many a speck,

Like the water-snaked belly and the toad's back.

And thistles, and nettles, and darnels rank,
And the dock, and henbane, and hemlock dank,
Stretched out its long and hollow shank, 230

And stifled the air till the dead wind stank.

And plants, at whose names the verse feels loath,
Filled the place with a monstrous undergrowth,
Prickly, and pulpous, and blistering, and blue,
Livid, and starred with a lurid dew.



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 119

Their moss rotted off them, flake by flake,
Till the thick stalk stuck like a murderer's stake,
Where rags of loose flesh yet tremble on high,
Infecting the winds that wander by.

And agarics, and fungi, with mildew and mould 240

Started like mist from the wet ground cold;

Pale, fleshy, as if the decaying dead

With a spirit of growth had been animated!

Spawn, weeds, and filth, a leprous scum,

Made the running rivulet thick and dumb,

And at its outlet flags huge as stakes

Dammed it up with roots knotted like water-snakes.

And hour by hour, when the air was still,

The vapours arose which have strength to kill;!^

At morn they were seen, at noon they were felt, S 250

At night they were darkness no star could melt.

And unctuous meteors from spray to spray
Crept and flitted in broad noonday
Unseen ; every branch on which they alit
By a venomous blight was burned and bit.

The Sensitive Plant, like one forbid,
Wept, and the tears within each lid
Of its folded leaves, which together grew,
Were changed to a blight of frozen glue.



120 STORY POEMS

For the leaves soon fell, and the branches soon 260
By the heavy axe of the blast were hewn ;
The sap shrank to the root through every pore
As blood to a heart that will beat no more.



For Winter came: the wind was his whip:


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