Part 2 out of 4
That summer a Virginius
Was Consul first in place;
The second was stout Aulus,
Of the Posthumian race.
The Herald of the Latines 85
From Gabii came in state:
The Herald of the Latines
Passed through Rome's Eastern Gate
The herald of the Latines
Did in our Forum stand; 90
And there he did his office,
A sceptre in his hand.
"Hear, Senators and people
Of the good town of Rome,
The Thirty Cities charge you 95
To bring the Tarquins home:
And if ye still be stubborn,
To work the Tarquins wrong,
The Thirty Cities warn you,
Look that your walls be strong." 100
Then spake the Consul Aulus,
He spake a bitter jest:
"Once the jay sent a message
Unto the eagle's nest:--
Now yield thou up thine eyrie 105
Unto the carrion-kite,
Or come forth valiantly, and face
The jays in deadly fight.--
Forth looked in wrath the eagle;
And carrion-kite and jay, 110
Soon as they saw his beak and claw,
Fled screaming far away."
The Herald of the Latines
Hath hied him back in state;
The Fathers of the City 115
Are met in high debate.
Then spake the elder Consul,
An ancient man and wise:
"Now hearken, Conscript Fathers,
To that which I advise. 120
In seasons of great peril
Tis good that one bear sway;
Then choose we a Dictator,
Whom all men shall obey.
Camerium knows how deeply 125
The sword of Aulus bites,
And all our city calls him
The man of seventy fights.
Then let him be Dictator
For six months and no more, 130
And have a Master of the Knights,
And axes twenty-four."
So Aulus was Dictator,
The man of seventy fights
He made Aebutius Elva 135
His Master of the Knights.
On the third morn thereafter,
At dawning of the day,
Did Aulus and Aebutius
Set forth with their array. 140
Was left in charge at home
With boys, and with grey-headed men,
To keep the walls of Rome.
Hard by the Lake Regillus 145
Our camp was pitched at night:
Eastward a mile the Latines lay,
Under the Porcian height.
Far over hill and valley
Their mighty host was spread; 150
And with their thousand watch-fires
The midnight sky was red.
[_The names of the towns which contributed to the Latin army of
threescore thousand men, and their order of battle. All Latium was
there to fight with Rome_.]
Up rose the golden morning
Over the Porcian height,
The proud Ides of Quintilis 155
Marked evermore with white.
Not without; secret trouble
Our bravest saw the foes;
For girt by threescore thousand spears
The thirty standards rose. 160
From every warlike city
That boasts the Latian name,
Foredoomed to dogs and vultures,
That gallant army came;
From Sofia's purple vineyards, 165
From Norba's ancient wall,
From the white streets of Tusculum,
The proudest town of all;
From where the Witch's Fortress
O'erhangs the dark-blue seas; 170
From the still glassy lake that sleeps
Beneath Aricia's trees--
Those trees in whose dim shadow
The ghastly priest doth reign,
The priest who slew the slayer, 175
And shall himself be slain;
From the drear banks of Ufens,
Where nights of marsh-fowl play,
And buffaloes lie wallowing
Through the hot summer's day, 180
From the gigantic watch-towers,
No work of earthly men,
Whence Cora's sentinels o'erlook
The never-ending fen;
From the Laurentian jungle, 185
The wild hog's reedy home;
From the green steeps whence Anio leaps
In floods of snow-white foam.
Aricia, Cora, Norba,
Velitrae, with the might; 190
Of Setia and of Tusculum,
Were marshalled on the right:
The leader was Mamilius,
Prince of the Latian name,
Upon his head a helmet 195
Of red gold shone like flame:
High on a gallant charger
Of dark-grey hue he rode:
Over his gilded armour
A vest of purple flowed, 200
Woven in the land of sunrise
By Syria's dark-browed daughters,
And by the sails of Carthage brought
Far o'er the southern waters.
Lavinium and Laurentum 205
Had on the left their post,
With all the banners of the marsh,
And banners of the coast.
Their leader was false Sextus,
That wrought the deed of shame: 210
With restless pace and haggard face
To his last field he came.
Men said he saw strange visions
Which none beside might see,
And that strange sounds were in his ears 215
Which none might hear but he.
A woman fair and stately,
But pale as are the dead,
Oft through the watches of the night
Sat spinning by his bed. 220
And as she plied the distaff,
In a sweet voice and low,
She sang of great old houses,
And fights fought long ago.
So spun she, and so sang she, 225
Until the east was grey,
Then pointed to her bleeding breast,
And shrieked, and fled away.
But in the centre thickest
Were ranged the shields of foes, 230
And from the centre loudest
The cry of battle rose.
There Tibur marched and Pedum
Beneath proud Tarquin's rule,
And Ferentinum of the rock, 235
And Gabii of the pool.
There rode the Volscian succours:
There, in a dark stern ring,
The Roman exiles gathered close,
Around the ancient king. 240
Though white as Mount Soracte,
When winter nights are long,
His beard flowed down o'er mail and belt,
His heart and hand were strong:
Under his hoary eyebrows 245
Still flashed forth quenchless rage,
And, if the lance shook in his gripe,
'Twas more with hate than age.
Close at his side was Titus
On an Apulian steed, 250
Titus, the youngest Tarquin,
Too good for such a breed.
[_The battle begins. False Sextus flees from Herminius, one of the
defenders of the bridge. Aebutius slays Tubero, but is severely
wounded by Mamilius of Tusculum, and retires from the fight_.]
Now on each side the leaders
Gave signal for the charge;
And on each side the footmen 255
Strode on with lance and targe;
And on each side the horsemen
Struck their spurs deep in gore;
And front to front, the armies
Met with a mighty roar: 260
And under that great battle
The earth with blood was red;
And, like the Pomptine fog at morn,
The dust hung overhead;
And louder still and louder 265
Rose from the darkened field
The braying of the war-horns,
The clang of sword and shield,
The rush of squadrons sweeping
Like whirlwinds o'er the plain,
The shouting of the slayers, 270
And screeching of the slain.
False Sextus rode out foremost:
His look was high and bold;
His corslet was of bison's hide, 275
Plated with steel and gold.
As glares the famished eagle
From the Digentian rock
On a choice lamb that bounds alone
Before Bandusia's flock, 280
Herminius glared on Sextus,
And came with eagle speed,
Herminius on black Auster,
Brave champion on brave steed;
In his right hand the broadsword 285
That kept the bridge so well,
And on his helm the crown he won
When proud Fidenae fell.
Woe to the maid whose lover
Shall cross his path to-day! 290
False Sextus saw, and trembled,
And turned, and fled away.
As turns, as flies, the woodman
In the Calabrian brake,
When through the reeds gleams the round eye 295
Of that fell speckled snake;
So turned, so fled, false Sextus,
And hid him in the rear,
Behind the dark Lavinian ranks,
Bristling with crest and spear. 300
But far to north Aebutius,
The Master of the Knights,
Gave Tubero of Norba
To feed the Porcian kites.
Next under those red horse-hoofs 305
Flaccus of Setia lay;
Better had he been pruning
Among his elms that day.
Mamilius saw the slaughter,
And tossed his golden crest, 310
And towards the Master of the Knights
Through the thick battle pressed.
Aebutias smote Mamilius
So fiercely, on the shield
That the great lord of Tusculum 315
Well nigh rolled on the field.
Mamilius smote Aebutius,
With a good aim and true,
Just where the neck and shoulder join,
And pierced him through and through; 320
And brave Aebutius Elva
Fell swooning to the ground:
But a thick wall of bucklers
Encompassed him around.
His clients from the battle 325
Bare him some little space,
And filled a helm from the dark lake,
And bathed his brow and face;
And when at last he opened
His swimming eyes to light, 330
Men say, the earliest word he spake
Was, "Friends, how goes the fight?"
[_The struggle in the centre, where the ancient Tarquin is struck
down. The Latins fight over him as he lies, and Titus kills
Valerius, round whose body the struggle waxes hot_.]
But meanwhile in the centre
Great deeds of arms were wrought;
There Aulus the Dictator 335
And there Valerius fought.
Aulus with his good broadsword
A bloody passage cleared
To where, amidst the thickest foes,
He saw the long white beard. 340
Flat lighted that good broadsword
Upon proud Tarquin's head.
He dropped the lance: he dropped the reins:
He fell as fall the dead.
Down Aulus springs to slay him, 345
With eyes like coals of fire;
But faster Titus hath sprung down,
And hath bestrode his sire.
Latian captains, Roman knights,
Fast down to earth they spring, 350
And hand to hand they fight on foot
Around the ancient king.
First Titus gave tall Caeso
A death wound in the face;
Tall Caeso was the bravest man 355
Of the brave Fabian race:
Aulus slew Rex of Gabii,
The priest of Juno's shrine:
Valerius smote down Julius,
Of Rome's great Julian line; 360
Julius, who left his mansion
High on the Velian hill,
And through all turns of weal and woe
Followed proud Tarquin still.
Now right across proud Tarquin 365
A corpse was Julius laid;
And Titus groaned with rage and grief,
And at Valerius made.
Valerius struck at Titus,
And lopped off half his crest; 370
But Titus stabbed Valerius
A span deep in the breast.
Like a mast snapped by the tempest,
Valerius reeled and fell.
Ah! woe is me for the good house 375
That loves the people well!
Then shouted loud the Latines;
And with one rush they bore
The struggling Romans backward
Three lances' length and more: 380
And up they took proud Tarquin,
And laid him on a shield,
And four strong yeoman bare him,
Still senseless from the field.
But fiercer grew the fighting 385
Around Valerius dead;
For Titus dragged him by the foot,
And Aulus by the head.
"On, Latines, on!" quoth Titus,
"See how the rebels fly!" 390
"Romans, stand firm!" quoth Aulus,
"And win this fight or die!
They must not give Valerius
To raven and to kite;
For aye Valerius loathed the wrong, 395
And aye upheld the right:
And for your wives and babies
In the front rank he fell.
Now play the men for the good house
That loves the people well!" 400
Then tenfold round the body
The roar of battle rose,
Like the roar of a burning forest,
"When a strong north wind blows.
Now backward, and now forward, 405
Rocked furiously the fray,
Till none could see Valerius,
And none wist where he lay.
For shivered arms and ensigns
Were heaped there in a mound, 410
And corpses stiff, and dying men,
That writhed and gnawed the ground,
And wounded horses kicking,
And snorting purple foam:
Right well did such a couch befit 415
A Consular of Rome.
[_Mamilius is seen coming to the aid of the Latins. Cossus gallops
off to summon Herminus, who comes at once. Mamilius flings himself
athwart his course, and both champions are slain_.]
But north looked the Dictator;
North looked he long and hard;
And spake to Caius Cossus,
The Captain of his Guard: 420
"Caius, of all the Romans
Thou hast the keenest sight;
Say, what through yonder storm of dust
Comes from the Latian right?"
Then answered Caius Cossus 425
"I see an evil sight;
The banner of proud Tusculum
Comes from the Latian right:
I see the plumed horsemen;
And far before the rest 430
I see the dark-grey charger,
I see the purple vest,
I see the golden helmet
That shines far off like flame;
So ever rides Mamilius, 435
Prince of the Latian name."
"Now hearken, Caius Cossus:
Spring on thy horse's back;
Ride as the wolves of Apennine
Were all upon thy track; 440
Haste to our southward battle:
And never draw thy rein
Until thou find Herminius,
And bid him come amain."
So Aulus spake, and turned him 445
Again to that fierce strife,
And Caius Cossus mounted,
And rode for death and life.
Loud clanged beneath his horse-hoofs
The helmets of the dead, 450
And many a curdling pool of blood
Splashed him from heel to head.
So came he far to southward,
Where fought the Roman host,
Against the banners of the marsh 455
And banners of the coast.
Like corn before the sickle
The stout Lavinians fell,
Beneath the edge of the true sword
That kept the bridge so well. 460
"Herminius: Aulus greets thee;
He bids thee come with speed,
To help our central battle:
For sore is there our need.
There wars the youngest Tarquin, 465
And there the Crest of Flame,
The Tusculan Mamilius,
Prince of the Latian name.
Valerius hath fallen fighting
In front of our array: 470
And Aulus of the seventy fields
Alone upholds the day."
Herminius beat his bosom:
But never a word he spake.
He clapped his hand on Auster's mane, 475
He gave the reins a shake:
Away, away went Auster,
Like an arrow from the bow:
Black Auster was the fleetest steed
From Aufidus to Po. 480
Right glad were all the Romans
Who, in that hour of dread,
Against great odds bare up the war
Around Valerius dead,
When from the south the cheering 485
Rose with a mighty swell;
"Herminius comes, Herminius,
Who kept the bridge so well!"
Mamilius spied Herminius,
And dashed across the way. 490
"Herminius! I have sought thee
Through many a bloody day.
One of us two, Herminius,
Shall never more go home,
I will lay on for Tusculum, 495
And lay thou on for Rome!"
All round them paused the battle,
While met in mortal fray
The Roman and the Tusculan,
The horses black and grey. 500
Herminius smote Mamilius
Through breast-plate and through breast,
And fast flowed out the purple blood
Over the purple vest.
Mamilius smote Herminius 505
Through head-piece and through head;
And side by side those chiefs of pride
Together fell down dead.
Down fell they dead together
In a great lake of gore; 510
And still stood all who saw them fall
While men might count a score.
[_Mamilius' charger dashes off to Tusculum, Black Auster remains by
his master's body. Titus attempts to mount him, but is slain by
Aulus the Dictator_.]
Fast, fast, with heels wild spurning,
The dark-grey charger fled:
He burst through ranks of fighting men; 515
He sprang o'er heaps of dead.
His bridle far out-streaming,
His flanks all blood and foam,
He sought the southern mountains,
The mountains of his home. 520
The pass was steep and rugged,
The wolves they howled and whined;
But he ran like a whirlwind up the pass,
And he left the wolves behind.
Through many a startled hamlet 525
Thundered his flying feet;
He rushed through the gate of Tusculum,
He rushed up the long white street;
He rushed by tower and temple,
And paused not from his race 530
Till he stood before his master's door
In the stately market-place.
And straightway round him gathered
A pale and trembling crowd,
And when they knew him, cries of rage 535
Brake forth, and wailing loud:
And women rent their tresses
For their great prince's fall;
And old men girt on their old swords,
And went to man the wall. 540
But, like a graven image,
Black Auster kept his place,
And ever wistfully he looked
Into his master's face.
The raven-mane that daily, 545
With pats and fond caresses,
The young Herminia washed and combed,
And twined in even tresses,
And decked with coloured ribands
From her own gay attire, 550
Hung sadly o'er her father's corpse
In carnage and in mire.
Forth with a shout sprang Titus,
And seized Black Auster's rein.
Then Aulus sware a fearful oath, 555
And ran at him amain.
"The furies of thy brother
With me and mine abide,
If one of your accursed house
Upon black Auster ride!" 560
As on an Alpine watch-tower
From heaven comes down the flame,
Full on the neck of Titus
The blade of Aulus came:
And out the red blood spouted, 565
In a wide arch and tall,
As spouts a fountain in the court
Of some rich Capuan's hall.
The knees of all the Latines
Were loosened with dismay 570
When dead, on dead Herminius,
The bravest Tarquin lay.
[_Aulus prepares to mount black Auster, when he spies two strange
horsemen by his side. These are Castor and Pollux, who charge at the
head of the Roman army_.]
And Aulus the Dictator
Stroked Auster's raven mane,
With heed he looked unto the girths, 575
With heed unto the rein.
"Now bear me well, black Auster,
Into yon thick array;
And thou and I will have revenge
For thy good lord this day." 580
So spake he; and was buckling
Tighter black Auster's band,
When he was aware of a princely pair
That rode at his right hand.
So like they were, no mortal 585
Might one from other know:
White as snow their armour was;
Their steeds were white as snow.
Never on earthly anvil
Did such rare armour gleam; 590
And never did such gallant steeds
Drink of an earthly stream.
And all who saw them trembled,
And pale grew every cheek,
And Aulus the Dictator 595
Scarce gathered voice to speak.
"Say by what name men call you?
What city is your home?
And wherefore ride ye in such guise
Before the ranks of Rome?" 600
"By many names men call us;
In many lands we dwell;
Well Samothracia knows us,
Cyrene knows us well.
Our house in gay Tarentum 605
Is hung each morn with flowers:
High o'er the masts of Syracuse
Our marble portal towers;
But by the proud Eurotas
Is our dear native home; 610
And for the right we come to fight
Before the ranks of Rome."
So answered those strange horsemen,
And each couched low his spear;
And forthwith all the ranks of Rome 615
Were bold, and of good cheer;
And on the thirty armies
Came wonder and affright,
And Ardea wavered on the left,
And Cora on the right. 620
"Rome to the charge!" cried Aulus;
"The foe begins to yield!
Charge for the hearth of Vesta!
Charge for the Golden Shield!
Let no man stop to plunder, 625
But slay, and slay, and slay:
The Gods who live forever
Are on our side to-day."
[_The Latins turn and flee. Many of their chiefs are slain, and
above all false Sextus, who dies a coward's death_.]
Then the fierce trumpet-flourish
From earth to heaven arose. 630
The kites know well the long stern swell
That bids the Romans close.
Then the good sword of Aulus
Was lifted up to slay:
Then, like a crag down Apennine, 635
Rushed Auster through the fray.
But under those strange horsemen
Still thicker lay the slain:
And after those strange horses
Black Auster toiled in vain. 640
Behind them Rome's long battle
Came rolling on the foe,
Ensigns dancing wild above,
Blades all in line below,
So comes the Po in flood-time 645
Upon the Celtic plain:
So comes the squall, blacker than night,
Upon the Adrian main.
How, by our Sire Quirinus,
It was a goodly sight 650
To see the thirty standards
Swept down the tide of flight.
So flies the spray of Adria
When the black squall doth blow,
So corn-sheaves in the flood-time 655
Spin down the whirling Po.
False Sextus to the mountains
Turned first his horse's head;
And fast fled Ferentinum,
And fast Lanuvium fled. 660
The horsemen of Nomentum
Spurred hard out of the fray,
The footmen of Velitrae
Threw shield and spear away.
And underfoot was trampled, 665
Amidst the mud and gore,
The banner of proud Tusculum,
That never stooped before:
And down went Flavius Faustus,
Who led his stately ranks 670
From where the apple-blossoms wave
On Anio's echoing banks,
And Tullus of Arpinum,
Chief of the Volscian aids,
And Metius with the long fair curls, 675
The love of Anxur's maids,
And the white head of Vulgo,
The great Arician seer,
And Nepos of Laurentum,
The hunter of the deer; 680
And in the back false Sextus
Felt the good Roman steel;
And wriggling in the dust he died,
Like a worm beneath the wheel:
And fliers and pursuers 685
Were mingled in a mass;
And far away the battle
Went roaring through the pass.
[_The Dioscuri ride to Rome with news of victory. No one dares to
ask who they are, and after washing their steeds in Vesta's fountain
they vanish from mortal sight_.]
Sate in the Eastern Gate, 690
Beside him were three Fathers,
Each in his chair of state;
Fabius, whose nine stout grandsons
That day were in the field,
And Manlius, eldest of the Twelve 695
Who kept the Golden Shield;
And Sergius, the High Pontiff,
For wisdom far renowned,
In all Etruria's colleges
Was no such Pontiff found. 700
And all around the portal,
And high above the wall,
Stood a great throng of people,
But sad and silent all;
Young lads, and stooping elders 705
That might not bear the mail,
Matrons with lips that quivered,
And maids with faces pale.
Since the first gleam of daylight,
Sempronius had not ceased 710
To listen for the rushing
Of horse-hoofs from the east.
The mist of eve was rising.
The sun was hastening down,
When he was aware of a princely pair 715
Fast pricking towards the town,
So like they were, man never
Saw twins so like before;
Red with gore their armour was,
Their steeds were red with gore. 720
"Hail to the great Asylum!
Hail to the hill-tops seven!
Hail to the fire that burns for aye!
And the shield that fell from heaven!
This day, by Lake Regillus, 725
Under the Porcian height,
All in the lands of Tusculum
Was fought a glorious fight.
To-morrow your Dictator
Shall bring in triumph home 730
The spoils of thirty cities
To deck the shrines of Rome!"
Then burst from that great concourse
A shout that shook the towers,
And some ran north, and some ran south, 735
Crying, "The day is ours!"
But on rode these strange horsemen,
With slow and lordly pace;
And none who saw their bearing
Durst ask their name or race. 740
On rode they to the Forum,
While laurel-boughs and flowers,
From house-tops and from windows,
Fell on their crests in showers.
When they drew nigh to Vesta, 745
They vaulted down amain,
And washed their horses in the well
That springs by Vesta's fane.
And straight again they mounted,
And rode to Vesta's door; 750
Then, like a blast, away they passed,
And no man saw them more.
[_The Pontiff tells the Romans who their god-like visitors are, and
bids the citizens build a temple to them and establish an annual
procession in their honour_.]
And all the people trembled,
And pale grew every cheek;
And Sergius the High Pontiff 755
Alone found voice to speak:
"The gods who live for ever
Have fought for Rome to-day!
These be the Great Twin Brethren
To whom the Dorians pray. 760
Back comes the Chief in triumph,
Who, in the hour of fight,
Hath seen the Great Twin Brethren
In harness on his right.
Safe comes the ship to haven, 765
Through billows and through gales,
If once the Great Twin Brethren
Sit shining on the sails.
Wherefore they washed their horses
In Vesta's holy well, 770
Wherefore they rode to Vesta's door,
I know, but may not tell.
Here, hard by Vesta's Temple,
Build we a stately dome
Unto the Great Twin Brethren 775
Who fought so well for Rome.
And when the months returning
Bring back this day of fight,
The proud Ides of Quintilis,
Marked evermore with white, 780
Unto the Great Twin Brethren
Let all the people throng,
With chaplets and with offerings,
With music and with song;
And let the doors and windows 785
Be hung with garlands all,
And let the Knights be summoned
To Mars without the wall:
Thence let them ride in purple
With joyous trumpet-sound, 790
Each mounted on his war-horse,
And each with olive crowned;
And pass in solemn order
Before the sacred dome,
Where dwell the Great Twin Brethren 795
Who fought so well for Rome!"
 Ten years after the siege of Rome by Lars Porsena, the Latins,
under Mamilius of Tusculum, made a last attempt to force the Romans
to restore the Tarquin kings. A battle was fought at Lake Regillus
(B.C. 498) between the Latins and the Romans, in which the Romans
were successful. Lake Regillus has disappeared and its exact site is
no longer known. It is supposed to have been situated at the foot of
the Tusculan hills, about ten miles to the southeast of Rome.
 Castor and Pollux were twin deities, the sons of Zeus (or
Jupiter). Their birthplace was Sparta, in Greece, and there they had
their chief temple.
 Ides of Quintilis. The fifteenth of July.
 lictors. The body-guard of the magistrates, armed with rods and
 The Knights. The cavalry.
 Castor, and Mars. The temples of Castor and of Mars.
 Forum. The market-place, or public square.
 Yellow River. The Tiber, so called from its yellow sands.
 Sacred Hill. A famous hill about three miles from Rome.
 Martian Kalends. The first of March, on which a feast to Juno
 December's Nones. December the fifth, on which was held a feast
to Faunus, a god of the flocks and herds.
 whitest. We should say "a red-letter day."
 Parthemus. A mountain range in Greece.
 Cirrha's dome. The dome of the temple of Apollo at Delphi, near
Cirrha, in Greece.
 Adria. The Adriatic.
 Lacedaemon. Sparta, which was governed by two kings representing
two great families.
 Porcian height. Monte Porzio, near the scene of the battle.
 Corne. A hill near Tusculum.
 Fair Fount. A spring in the vicinity.
 Thirty Cities. The Latin cities, banded together in aid of the
"One spot on the margin of Lake Regillus was regarded during many
ages with superstitious awe. A mark, resembling in shape a horse's
hoof, was discernible in the volcanic rock; and this mark was
believed to have been made by one of the celestial
 a Virginius. One of the family of the Virginii.
 The consul who was elected first was usually held in greater
honour than the other.
 Gabii. A Latin city about twelve miles from Rome.
 Conscript Fathers. The senate. The original expression is
_patres conscripti_ (_patres et conscripti_), _patres_ referring to
the patrician element, and _conscripti_ to the plebeian element in
 Camerium. One of the Latin cities.
 Master of the Knights. Chief lieutenant.
 The Consuls usually had twelve lictors each; the Dictator
 Witch's Fortress. The town of Circeii, which Macaulay associates
here with Circe, the enchantress.
 ghastly priest. The temple of Diana, in a grove near Aricia, had
for its priest a runaway slave, who was to hold office until slain by
another runaway slave stronger than he.
 Ufens. A river.
 Laurentian jungle. Marshy thickets near the town of Laurentum.
 Carthage. On the north coast of Africa. The Carthaginians were
a commercial and sea-faring people.
 a woman. Lucretia. After she had been wronged by Sextus, she
stabbed herself and died.
 Tibur. The modern city of Tivoli.
 Soracte. A snow-capped mountain about twenty-five miles from
 Apulian. Apulia was one of the divisions of Italy.
 targe. shield.
 Pomptine. The Pontine marshes in the southern part of Latium.
 Digentian rock. A crag near the river Digentia.
 Bandusia. A fountain.
 Auster. The word signifies "the stormy south wind."
 crown. The first Roman to scale the walls of a besieged town
received a crown of gold.
 Calabrian. Calabria forms the "heel" of Italy.
 Pruning the vines entwined around the trunks of the elms.
 clients. Servants attached to the Patrician families.
 Titus. Son of Tarquin the Proud.
 Fabian. The Fabii were a famous Roman family.
 The Julian house claimed to be descended from Iulus, son of
 Velian hill. The Velian hill was not far from the Forum in Rome.
 Crest of Flame. The flaming crest on the helmet of Mamilius.
See l. 434.
 From Aufidus to Po. In all Italy. Aufidus was a river in the
south of Italy; Po, a river in the north.
 thy brother. False Sextus, supposed to be haunted by the furies
(the Greek goddesses of Vengeance) for his crime.
 Capuan. Capua was a luxurious city in southern Italy.
 Samothracia. An island in the Aegean, where Castor and Pollux
 Tarentum. A Greek town in the south of Italy.
 Syracuse. An important city in Sicily.
 Eurotas. A river in Greece, flowing past the city of Sparta.
 Vesta. The goddess of the hearth.
 Golden Shield. The shield of Mars which had fallen from heaven
during the reign of Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome.
 Celtic plain. The north of Italy, inhabited by Celtic tribes.
 Sire Quirinus. Romulus, the founder of Rome.
 The Twelve. In order to prevent the shield of Mars from being
stolen, eleven others were made after the same pattern, and twelve
priests were appointed to guard the twelve shields.
 High Pontiff. The chief priest.
 Asylum. Romulus was said to have promised a refuge to all
fugitives, in the newly-founded city of Rome.
 the fire. In the temple of Vesta.
 Dorians. The Spartans belonged to the Dorian branch of the Greek
 Castor and Pollux were the special guardians of sailors at sea.
When, during a thunderstorm, a light played around the masts and
sails of the ship, Castor and Pollux were supposed to be present,
watching over the fortunes of the vessel.
THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL.
PRELUDE TO PART FIRST.
Over his keys the musing organist,
Beginning doubtfully and far away,
First lets his fingers wander as they list,
And builds a bridge from Dreamland for his lay:
Then, as the touch of his loved instrument 5
Gives hopes and fervor, nearer draws his theme,
First guessed by faint auroral flushes sent
Along the wavering vista of his dream.
Not only around our infancy
Doth heaven with all its splendors lie; 10
Daily, with souls that cringe and plot,
We Sinais climb and know it not;
Over our manhood bond the skies,
Against our fallen and traitor lives
The great winds utter prophecies; 15
With our faint hearts the mountain strives;
Its arms outstretched, the druid wood
Waits with its benedicite:
And to our age's drowsy blood
Still shouts the inspiring sea. 20
Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us,
The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
The priest hath his foe who comes and shrives us,
We bargain for the graves we lie in;
At the Devil's booth are all things sold, 25
Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
Bubbles we earn with a whole soul's tasking:
'T is heaven alone that is given away,
'T is only God may be had for the asking, 30
There is no price set on the lavish summer,
And June may be had by the poorest comer.
And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune, 35
And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers, 40
And, grasping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul for grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green, 45
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there's never a leaf or a blade too mean
To be some happy creature's palace,
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves, 50
And lets his illumined being o'errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,-- 55
In the nice ear of nature which song is the best?
Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back, with a ripply cheer,
Into every bare inlet and creek and bay; 60
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God so wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green.
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well 65
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes, but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear,
That dandelions are blossoming near, 70
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by:
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For other couriers we should not lack; 75
We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,--
And hark! how clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
Tells all in his lusty crowing!
Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how; 80
Everything is happy now,
Everything is upward striving;
'T is as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,--
'T is the natural way of living, 85
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave no wake;
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;
The soul partakes the season's youth, 90
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep 'neath a silence pure and smooth,
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.
What wonder if Sir Launfal now
Remembered the keeping of his vow? 95
"My golden spurs now bring to me,
And bring to me my richest mail,
For to-morrow I go over land and sea
In search of the Holy Grail;
Shall never a bed for me be spread. 100
Nor shall a pillow be under my head,
Till I begin my vow to keep,
Here on the rushes will I sleep,
And perchance there may come a vision true
Ere day create the world anew." 105
Slowly Sir Launfal's eyes grew dim,
Slumber fell like a cloud on him,
And into his soul the vision flew.
The crows flapped over by twos and threes,
In the pool drowsed the cattle up to their knees, 110
The little birds sang as if it were
The one day of summer in all the year
And the very leaves seemed to sing on the trees
The castle alone in the landscape lay
Like an outpost of winter, dull and gray; 115
'T was the proudest hall in the North Countree,
And never its gates might opened be,
Save to lord or lady of high degree;
Summer besieged it on every side,
But the churlish stone her assaults defied; 120
She could not scale the chilly wall,
Though round it for leagues her pavilions tall
Stretched left and right,
Over the hills and out of sight;
Green and broad was every tent, 125
And out of each a murmur went
Till the breeze fell off at night.
The drawbridge dropped with a surly clang,
And through the dark arch a charger sprang,
Bearing Sir Launfal, the maiden knight, 130
In his gilded mail, that flamed so bright
It seemed the dark castle had gathered all
Those shafts the fierce sun had shot over its wall
In his siege of three hundred summers long,
And, binding them all in one blazing sheaf, 135
Had cast them forth; so, young and strong,
And lightsome as a locust leaf,
Sir Launfal flashed forth in his unscarred mail,
To seek in all climes for the Holy Grail.
It was morning on hill and stream and tree, 140
And morning in the young knight's heart;
Only the castle moodily
Rebuffed the gifts of the sunshine free,
And gloomed by itself apart;
The season brimmed all other things up 145
Full as the rain fills the pitcher-plant's cup.
As Sir Launfal made morn through the darksome gate,
He was ware of a leper, crouched by the same,
Who begged with his hand and moaned as he sate;
And a loathing over Sir Launfal came, 150
The sunshine went out of his soul with a thrill,
The flesh 'neath his armor did shrink and crawl.
And midway its leap his heart stood still
Like a frozen waterfall;
For this man, so foul and bent of stature, 155
Rasped harshly against his dainty nature,
And seemed the one blot on the summer morn,--
So he tossed him a piece of gold in scorn.
The leper raised not the gold from the dust:
"Better to me the poor man's crust, 160
Better the blessing of the poor,
Though I turn me empty from his door;
That is no true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives nothing but worthless gold
Who gives from a sense of duty; 165
But he who gives a slender mite,
And gives to that which is out of sight,
That thread of the all-sustaining Beauty
Which runs through all and doth all unite,--
The hand cannot clasp the whole of his alms, 170
The heart outstretches its eager palms,
For a god goes with it and makes it store
To the soul that was starving in darkness before."
PRELUDE TO PART SECOND.
Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak,
From the snow five thousand summers old: 175
On open wold and hill-top bleak
It had gathered all the cold,
And whirled it like a sheet on the wanderer's cheek;
It carried a shiver everywhere
From the unleafed boughs and pastures bare; 180
The little brook heard it and built a roof
'Neath which he could house him, winter-proof:
All night by the white stars' frosty gleams
He groined his arches and matched his beams;
Slender and clear were his crystal spars 185
As the lashes of light that trim the stars;
He sculptured every summer delight
In his halls and chambers out of sight;
Sometimes his tinkling waters slipt
Down through a frost-leaved forest-crypt. 190
Long, sparkling aisles of steel-stemmed trees
Bending to counterfeit a breeze;
Sometimes the roof no fretwork knew
But silvery mosses that downward grew;
Sometimes it was carved in sharp relief 195
With quaint arabesques of ice-fern leaf;
Sometimes it was simply smooth and clear
For the gladness of heaven to shine through, and here
He had caught the nodding bulrush-tops
And hung them thickly with diamond drops, 200
Which crystalled the beams of moon and sun,
And made a star of every one:
So mortal builder's most rare device
Could match this winter-palace of ice;
'T was as if every image that mirrored lay 205
In his depths serene through the summer day,
Each flitting shadow of earth and sky,
Lest the happy model should be lost,
Had been mimicked in fairy masonry
By the elfin builders of the frost. 210
Within the hall are song and laughter,
The cheeks of Christmas glow red and jolly,
And sprouting is every corbel and rafter
With the lightsome green of ivy and holly;
Through the deep gulf of the chimney wide 215
Wallows the Yule-log's roaring tide;
The broad flame-pennons droop and flap
And belly and tug as a flag in the wind;
Like a locust shrills the imprisoned sap,
Hunted to death in its galleries blind; 220
And swift little troops of silent sparks,
Now pausing, now scattering away as in fear,
Go threading the soot-forest's tangled darks
Like herds of startled deer.
But the wind without was eager and sharp, 225
Of Sir Launfal's gray hair it makes a harp,
And rattles and wrings
The icy strings,
Singing, in dreary monotone,
A Christmas carol of its own, 230
Whose burden still, as he might guess,
Was--"Shelterless, shelterless, shelterless!"
The voice of the seneschal flared like a torch
As he shouted the wanderer away from the porch,
And he sat in the gateway and saw all night 235
The great hall-fire, so cheery and bold,
Through the window-slits of the castle old,
Build out its piers of ruddy light
Against the drift of the cold.
There was never a leaf on bush or tree 240
The bare boughs rattled shudderingly;
The river was dumb and could not speak,
For the frost's swift shuttles its shroud had spun;
A single crow on the tree-top bleak
From his shining feathers shed off the cold sun; 245
Again it was morning, but shrunk and cold,
As if her veins were sapless and old,
And she rose up decrepitly
For a last dim look at earth and sea.
Sir Launfal turned from his own hard gate, 250
For another heir in his earldom sate;
An old, bent man, worn out and frail,
He came back from seeking the Holy Grail;
Little he recked of his earldom's loss,
No more on his surcoat was blazoned the cross, 255
But deep in his soul the sign he wore,
The badge of the suffering and the poor.
Sir Launfal's raiment thin and spare
Was idle mail 'gainst the barbed air,
For it was just at the Christmas time; 260
So he mused, as he sat, of a sunnier clime,
And sought for a shelter from cold and snow
In the light and warmth of long ago;
He sees the snake-like caravan crawl
O'er the edge of the desert, black and small, 265
Then nearer and nearer, till, one by one,
He can count the camels in the sun,
As over the red-hot sands they pass
To where, in its slender necklace of grass,
The little spring laughed and leapt in the shade, 270
And with its own self like an infant played,
And waved its signal of palms.
"For Christ's sweet sake, I beg an alms;"
The happy camels may reach the spring,
But Sir Launfal sees naught save the
grewsome thing, 275
The leper, lank as the rain-blanched bone,
That cowered beside him, a thing as lone
And white as the ice-isles of Northern seas
In the desolate horror of his disease.
And Sir Launfal said,--"I behold in thee 280
An image of Him who died on the tree;
Thou also hast had thy crown of thorns,--
Thou also hast had the world's buffets and scorns.
And to thy life were not denied
The wounds in the hands and feet and side; 285
Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me;
Behold, through him, I give to thee!"
Then the soul of the leper stood up in his eyes
And looked at Sir Launfal, and straightway he
Remembered in what a haughtier guise 290
He had flung an alms to leprosie,
"When he caged his young life up in gilded mail
And set forth in search of the Holy Grail,
The heart within him was ashes and dust;
He parted in twain his single crust, 295
He broke the ice on the streamlet's brink,
And gave the leper to eat and drink;
'T was a mouldy crust of coarse brown bread,
'T was water out of a wooden bowl,--
Yet with fine wheaten bread was the leper fed, 300
And 't was red wine he drank with his thirsty soul.
As Sir Launfal mused with a downcast face,
A light shone round about the place;
The leper no longer crouched at his side,
But stood before him glorified, 305
Shining and tall and fair and straight
As the pillar that stood by the Beautiful Gate,--
Himself the Gate whereby men can
Enter the temple of God in Man.
His words were shed softer than leaves
from the pine, 310
And they fell on Sir Launfal as snows on the brine,
Which mingle their softness and quiet in one
With the shaggy unrest they float down upon;
And the voice that was calmer than silence said,
"Lo, it is I, be not afraid! 315
In many climes, without avail,
Thou has spent thy life for the Holy Grail;
Behold it is here,--this cup which thou
Didst fill at the streamlet for me but now;
This crust is my body broken for thee, 320
This water His blood that died on the tree;
The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another's need,--
Not that which we give, but what we share,--
For the gift without the giver is bare; 325
Who bestows himself with his alms feeds three,--
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me."
Sir Launfal awoke, as from a swound;--
"The Grail in my castle here is found!
Hang my idle armor up on the wall, 330
Let it be the spider's banquet-hall;
He must be fenced with stronger mail
Who would seek and find the Holy Grail."
The castle-gate stands open now,
And the wanderer is welcome to the hall 335
As the hangbird is to the elm-tree bough,
No longer scowl the turrets tall,
The Summer's long siege at last is o'er;
When the first poor outcast went in at the door,
She entered with him in disguise, 340
And mastered the fortress by surprise;
There is no spot she loves so well on ground.
She lingers and smiles there the whole year round;
The meanest serf on Sir Launfal's land
Has hall and bower at his command; 345
And there's no poor man in the North Countree
But is lord of the earldom as much as he.
 Just as the organist gets into the spirit of his theme by means of
a dreamy prelude, so the poet by means of this introduction intends
to suggest the spirit of the poem that follows.
 Sinais. See Exodus, xix and xx.
 Druid. The druids were the priests of the ancient Celts.
 benedicite. Blessing, benediction.
 No matter how engrossed we may be with worldly things, Nature is
always influencing us for good.
 shrives. Hears confession and grants absolution.
 We give our lives in pursuit of foolish things. The cap and bells
was a part of the costume of the court jester.
 nice. discriminating, able to make fine distinctions.
 chanticleer. A crowing cock. The bird that "sings clear."
 rifts. Literally, clefts or fissures; used metaphorically here
with reference to the effects of "passion and woe" on the soul.
 Sir Launfal. A Knight of King Arthur's Round Table.
 Holy Grail. According to legend, the Holy Grail is the cup or
bowl from which Christ drank at the Last Supper, and which was used
by Joseph of Arimathea to receive the blood from Christ's wounds when
his body was removed from the cross. The Grail was taken to England
by Joseph of Arimathea, and at his death it remained in the keeping
of his descendants. But in the course of time, owing to the impurity
of life of its guardians, the Grail disappeared; and thereafter it
appeared only to those whose lives were free from sin. The search
for the Grail was undertaken by many of the knights of the Round
Table, but only one knight, Sir Galahad, was pure enough to see the
 rushes. Rushes were used in Mediaeval times to strew the floors
of the feudal castles.
 North Countree. The north of England.
 Pavilion and tent, as here used, refer to the trees.
 See Luke, xxi, 1-4.
 store. plenty.
 groined. The groin is the line made by the intersection of two
 crypt. A subterranean cell or chapel.
 relief. Figures are said to be in relief when they project or
stand out from the ground on which they are formed.
 arabesques. A style of ornament, representing flowers, fruit,
and foliage, adopted from the Arabs.
 corbel. A projection from the face of a wall, supporting an arch
or rafter above.
 gulf. The opening, or throat, of the chimney.
 Yule-log. A great log of wood laid, in ancient times, across the
hearth-fire on Christmas Eve.
 burden. refrain.
 seneschal. High-steward; the officer who had charge of feasts
and other ceremonies.
 surcoat. A cloak worn over the armour of a knight. The surcoat
of a Christian knight, was generally white, with a large red cross
displayed conspicuously ("blazoned") upon it.
 He tried to forget the cold and snow, by calling to mind pictures
of the hot desert.
 grewsome. horrible, hideous.
 tree. the cross.
 Beautiful Gate. See John, x, 7.
 temple of God in Man. "Know ye not that your body is the temple
of the Holy Ghost?" I Cor., vi, 19.
 See Luke, xxii, 19, 20.
 hangbird. oriole.
All are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time,
Some with massive deeds and great,
Some with ornaments of rhyme.
Nothing useless is, or low; 5
Each thing in its plane is best;
And what seems but idle show
Strengthens and supports the rest.
For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled; 10
Our to-days and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.
Truly shape and fashion these;
Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not, because no man sees, 15
Such things will remain unseen.
In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere. 20
Let us do our work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
Beautiful, entire and clean.
Else our lives are incomplete, 25
Standing in these walls of Time,
Broken stairways, where the feet
Stumble as they seek to climb.
Build to-day, then, strong and sure
With a firm and ample base 30
And ascending and secure
Shall to-morrow find its place.
Thus alone can we attain
To those turrets, where the eye
Sees the world as one vast plain, 35
And one boundless reach of sky.
 The figure seems to be that of a great edifice (Time) within which
we are building stairways (our lives) which enable us to rise to
 We gain a broader outlook on life.
It is not to be thought of that the flood
Of British freedom, which, to the open sea
Of the world's praise, from dark antiquity
Hath flow'd "with pomp of waters unwithstood"--
Roused though it be full often to a mood, 5
Which spurns the check of salutary bands,
That this most famous stream in bogs and sands
Should perish, and to evil and to good
Be lost for ever. In our halls is hung
Armoury of the invincible knights of old: 10
We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
That Shakspeare spake--the faith and morals hold
Which Milton held. In everything we're sprung
Of earth's first blood, have titles manifold.
 Written in 1802 or 1803, when an invasion of England by Napoleon
 This phrase is quoted from a poem by Daniel, an Elizabethan poet.
 in bogs and sands should perish. Should be destroyed by Napoleon.
THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH.
In the Old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the Pilgrims,
To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling,
Clad in doublet and hose, and boots of Cordovan leather,
Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish the Puritan Captain.
Buried in thought he seemed, with his hands behind him,
and pausing 5
Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of warfare.
Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber,--
Cutlass and corselet of steel, and his trusty sword of Damascus,
Curved at the point and inscribed with its mystical Arabic sentence,
While underneath, in a corner, were fowling-piece, musket,
and matchlock. 10
Short of stature he was, but strongly built and athletic,
Broad in the shoulders, deep-chested, with muscles and sinews of iron;
Brown as a nut was his face, but his russet beard was already,
Flaked with patches of snow, as hedges sometimes in November.
Near him was seated John Alden, his friend and household
Writing with diligent speed at a table of pine by the window;
Fair-haired, azure-eyed, with delicate Saxon complexion,
Having the dew of his youth, and the beauty thereof, as the captives
Whom Saint Gregory saw, and exclaimed, "Not Angles but Angels."
Youngest of all was he of the men who came in the Mayflower. 20
Suddenly breaking the silence, the diligent scribe interrupting,
Spake, in the pride of his heart, Miles Standish the Captain
"Look at these arms," he said, "the warlike weapons that hang here
Burnished and bright and clean, as if for parade or inspection!
This is the sword of Damascus, I fought with in Flanders;
this breastplate, 25
Well I remember the day! once saved my life in a skirmish;
Here in front you can see the very dint of the bullet
Fired point-blank at my heart by a Spanish arcabucero.
Had it not been of sheer steel, the forgotten bones of Miles Standish
Would at this moment be mould, in their grave in the
Flemish morasses." 30
Thereupon answered John Alden, but looked not up from his writing:
"Truly the breath of the Lord hath slackened the speed of the bullet;
He in his mercy preserved you, to be our shield and our weapon!"
Still the Captain continued, unheeding the words of the stripling:
"See, how bright they are burnished, as if in an arsenal hanging; 35
That is because I have done it myself, and not left it to others.
Serve yourself, would you be well served, is an excellent adage;
So I take care of my arms, as you of your pens and your ink-horn.
Then, too, there are my soldiers, my great, invincible army,
Twelve men, all equipped, having each his rest and his matchlock, 40
Eighteen shillings a month, together with diet and pillage,
And, like Caesar, I know the name of each of my soldiers!"
This he said with a smile, that danced in his eyes, as the sunbeams
Dance on the waves of the sea, and vanish again in a moment.
Alden laughed as he wrote, and still the Captain continued: 45
"Look! you can see from this window my brazen howitzer planted
High on the roof of the church, a preacher who speaks
to the purpose,
Steady, straightforward, and strong, with irresistible logic,
Orthodox, flashing conviction right into the hearts of the heathen.
"Now we are ready, I think, for any assault of the Indians: 50
Let them come, if they like, and the sooner they try it the better,--
Let them come if they like, be it sagamore, sachem, or powwow,
Aspinet, Samoset, Corbitant, Squanto, or Tokamahamon!"
Long at the window he stood, and wistfully gazed on the landscape,
Washed with a cold gray mist, the vapory breath of the east wind. 55
Forest and meadow and hill, and the steel-blue rim of the ocean,
Lying silent and sad, in the afternoon shadows and sunshine.
Over his countenance flitted a shadow like those on the landscape,
Gloom intermingled with light; and his voice was subdued with emotion,
Tenderness, pity, regret, as after a pause he proceeded: 60
"Yonder there, on the hill by the sea lies buried Rose Standish;
Beautiful rose of love, that bloomed for me by the wayside!
She was the first to die of all who came in the Mayflower!
Green above her is growing the field of wheat we have sown there,
Better to hide from the Indian scouts the graves of our people, 65
lest they should count them and see how many already have perished!"
Sadly his face he averted, and strode up and down and was thoughtful.
Fixed to the opposite wall was a shelf of books, and among them
Prominent three, distinguished alike for bulk and for binding;
Barriffe's Artillery Guide, and the Commentaries of Caesar, 70
Out of the Latin translated by Arthur Goldinge of London,
And, as if guarded by these, between them was standing the Bible.
Musing a moment before them, Miles Standish paused, as if doubtful
Which of the three he should choose for his consolation and comfort,
Whether the wars of the Hebrews, the famous campaigns
of the Romans, 75
Or the Artillery practice, designed for belligerent Christians.
Finally down from its shelf he dragged the ponderous Roman,
Seated himself at the window, and opened the book, and in silence
Turned o'er the well-worn leaves, where thumb-marks thick
on the margin,
Like the trample of feet proclaimed the battle was hottest. 80
Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling,
Busily writing epistles important, to go by the Mayflower,
Ready to sail on the morrow, or next day at latest, God willing!
Homeward bound with the tidings of all that terrible winter,
Letters written by Alden, and full of the name of Priscilla, 85
Full of the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla!
LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP.
Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling,
Or an occasional sigh from the laboring heart of the Captain,
Reading the marvellous words and achievements of Julius Caesar.
After a while he exclaimed, as he smote with his hand,
palm downwards, 90
Heavily on the page: "A wonderful man was this Caesar!
You are a writer, and I am a fighter, but here is a fellow
Who could both write and fight, and in both was equally skilful!"
Straightway answered and spake John Alden, the comely, the youthful:
"Yes, he was equally skilled, as you say, with his pen and
his weapons. 95
Somewhere have I read, but where I forget, he could dictate
Seven letters at once, at the same time writing his memoirs."
"Truly," continued, the Captain, not heeding or hearing the other,
"Truly a wonderful man was Caius Julius Caesar!
Better be first, he said, in a little Iberian village, 100
Than be second in Rome, and I think he was right when he said it.
Twice was he married before he was twenty, and many times after,
Battles five hundred he fought, and a thousand cities he conquered;
He, too, fought, in Flanders, as he himself has recorded;
Finally he was stabbed by his friend, the orator Brutus! 105
Now, do you know what he did on a certain occasion in Flanders,
When the rear-guard of his army retreated, the front giving way too,
And the immortal Twelfth Legion was crowded so closely together
There was no room for their swords? Why, he seized a shield
from a soldier,
Put himself straight at the head of his troops, and commanded
the captains, 110
Calling on each by his name, to order forward the ensigns;
Then to widen the ranks, and give more room for their weapons;
So he won the day, the battle of something-or-other.
That's what I always say; if you wish a thing to be well done,
You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others!" 115
All was silent again; the Captain continued his reading.
Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling
Writing epistles important to go next day by the Mayflower,
Filled with the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla;
Every sentence began or closed with the name of Priscilla, 120
Till the treacherous pen, to which he confided the secret,
Strove to betray it by singing and shouting the name of Priscilla!
Finally closing his book, with a bang of the ponderous cover,
Sudden and loud as the sound of a soldier grounding his musket,
Thus to the young man spake Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth: 125
"When you have finished your work, I have something important
to tell you.
Be not however in haste; I can wait, I shall not be impatient!"
Straightway Alden replied, as he folded the last of his letters,
Pushing his papers aside, and giving respectful attention:
"Speak: for whenever you speak, I am always ready to listen. 130
Always ready to hear whatever pertains to Miles Standish."
Thereupon answered the Captain, embarrassed, and culling his phrases;
"'T is not good for a man to be alone, say the Scriptures.
This I have said before, and again and again I repeat it;
Every hour in the day, I think it, and feel it, and say it. 135
Since Rose Standish died, my life has been weary and dreary,
Sick at heart have I been, beyond the healing of friendship.
Oft in my lonely hours have I thought of the maiden Priscilla.
She is alone in the world; her father and mother and brother
Died in the winter together; I saw her going and coming, 140
Now to the grave of the dead, and now to the bed of the dying.
Patient, courageous, and strong, and said to myself, that if ever
There were angels on earth, as there are angels in heaven,
Two have I seen and known, and the angel whose name is Priscilla
Holds in my desolate life the place which the other abandoned. 145
Long have I cherished the thought, but never have dared to reveal it,
Being a coward in this, though valiant enough for the most part.
Go to the damsel Priscilla, the loveliest maiden of Plymouth,
Say that a blunt old Captain, a man not of words but of actions,
Offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. 150
Not in these words, you know, but this in short is my meaning;
I am a maker of war, and not a maker of phrases,
You, who are bred as a scholar, can say it in elegant language,
Such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers,
Such as you think best adapted to win the heart of a maiden." 155
"When he had spoken, John Alden, the fair-haired, taciturn stripling,
All aghast at his words, surprised, embarrassed, bewildered,
Trying to mask his dismay by treating the subject with lightness,
Trying to smile, and yet feeling his heart stand still in his bosom.
Just as a timepiece stops in a house that is stricken by lightning. 160
Thus made answer and spake, or rather stammered than answered:
"Such a message as that, I am sure I should mangle and mar it;
If you would have it well done,--I am only repeating your maxim,--
You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others!"
But with the air of a man whom nothing can turn from his purpose 165
Gravely shaking his head, made answer the Captain of Plymouth:
"Truly the maxim is good, and I do not mean to gainsay it;
But we must use it discreetly, and not waste powder for nothing.
Now, as I said before, I was never a maker of phrases.
I can march up to a fortress and summon the place to surrender, 170
But march up to a woman with such a proposal, I dare not.
I'm not afraid of bullets, nor shot from the mouth of a cannon,
But of a thundering 'No!' point-blank from the mouth of a woman,
That I confess I'm afraid of, nor am I ashamed to confess it!
So you must grant my request, for you are an elegant scholar, 175
Having the graces of speech, and skill in the turning of phrases,"
Taking the hand of his friend; who still was reluctant and doubtful,
Holding it long in his own, and pressing it kindly, he added:
"Though I have spoken thus lightly, yet deep is the feeling
that prompts me;
Surely you cannot refuse what I ask in the name of our friendship!" 180
Then made answer John Alden: "The name of friendship is sacred;
What you demand in that name, I have not the power to deny you!"
So the strong will prevailed, subduing and moulding the gentler,
Friendship prevailed over love, and Alden went on his errand.
THE LOVER'S ERRAND.
So the strong will prevailed, and Alden went on his errand, 185
Out of the street of the village, and into the paths of the forest,
Into the tranquil woods, where bluebirds and robins were building
Towns in the populous trees, with hanging gardens of verdure,
Peaceful, aerial cities of joy and affection, and freedom!
All around him was calm, but within him commotion and conflict, 190
Love contending with friendship, and self with each generous impulse.
To and fro in his breast his thoughts were heaving and dashing,
As in a foundering ship, with every roll of the vessel,
Washes the bitter sea, the merciless surge of the ocean!
"Must I relinquish it all," he cried with a wild lamentation,-- 195
"Must I relinquish it all, the joy, the hope, the illusion?
Was it for this I have loved, and waited, and worshipped in silence!
Was it for this I have followed the flying feet and the shadow
Over the wintry sea, to the desolate shores of New England?
Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its depths of corruption 200
Rise, like an exhalation, the misty phantoms of passion;
Angels of light they seem, but are only delusions of Satan.
All is clear to me now; I feel it, I see it distinctly!
This is the hand of the Lord; it is laid upon me in anger,
For I have followed too much the heart's desires and devices, 205
Worshipping Astaroth blindly, and impious idols of Baal.
This is the cross I must bear; the sin and the swift retribution."
So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went, on his errand;
Crossing the brook at the ford, where it brawled over pebble
Gathering still, as he went, the Mayflowers blooming
around him, 210
Fragrant, filling the air with a strange and wonderful sweetness,
Children lost in the woods, and covered with leaves in their slumber.
"Puritan flowers," he said, "and the type of Puritan maidens,
Modest and simple and sweet, the very type of Priscilla!
So I will take them to her; to Priscilla the Mayflower of Plymouth, 215
Modest and simple and sweet, as a parting gift will I take them;
Breathing their silent farewells, as they fade and wither and perish,
Soon to be thrown away as is the heart of the giver."
So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on his errand;
Came to an open space, and saw the disk of the ocean, 220
Sailless, sombre and cold with the comfortless breath of the east-wind;
Saw the new-built house, and people at work in a meadow;
Heard, as he drew near the door, the musical voice of Priscilla
Singing the hundredth Psalm, the grand old Puritan anthem,
Music that Luther sang to the sacred words of the Psalmist, 225
Full of the breath of the Lord, consoling and comforting many.
Then, as he opened the door, he beheld the form of the maiden,
Seated beside her wheel, and the carded wool like a snow-drift
Piled at her knee, her white hands feeding the ravenous spindle,
While with her foot on the treadle she guided the wheel
in its motion. 230
Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalm-book of Ainsworth,
Printed in Amsterdam, the words and the music together,
Rough-hewn, angular notes, like stones in the wall of a churchyard,
Darkened and overhung by the running vine of the verses.
Such was the book from whose pages she sang the old Puritan anthem, 235
She, the Puritan girl, in the solitude of the forest,
Making the humble house and the modest apparel of homespun
Beautiful with her beauty, and rich with the wealth of her being!
Over him rushed, like a wind that is keen and cold and relentless,
Thoughts of what might have been, and the weight and woe
of his errand; 240
All the dreams that had faded, and all the hopes that had vanished,
All his life henceforth a dreary and tenantless mansion,
Haunted by vain regrets, and pallid, sorrowful faces.
Still he said to himself, and almost fiercely he said it,
"Let not him that putteth his hand to the plough look backwards; 245